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Centre still silent on SC query on foreigner holding govt post

Centre still silent on SC query on foreigner holding govt post

Author: Dhananjay Mahapatra
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 15, 2008

More than a year ago, the Supreme Court had sought the Centre's response to a constitutional question-whether a person not born in India could be appointed to a public office-but the UPA government, given the query's natural link to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, is yet to put in its reply.

On April 16, 2007, the court, acting on a plea filed by NGO Rashtriya Mukti Morcha (RMM), had asked if a person "who is not a citizen of India within the meaning of Article 5 of the Constitution has the right to be elected or appointed to any public office under the Constitution.'' On Monday, the government did not want to commit whether it would file a reply to the query, thus recording its stand on the issue that has a direct bearing on Sonia. Additional solicitor general P P Malhotra said the issue could be taken up for final hearing some time later and that if the Centre felt it necessary, it would file a formal reply. The "some time later'' plea for final hearing indicated the government's anxiety not to make it an issue for public debate at a time of political realignments in the wake of the nuclear deal fallout. A bench comprising CJI K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam posted the matter for hearing after eight weeks, which means there could be no debate in court over the issue at least till the end of September.

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