New Delhi: The Centre has asserted in the Supreme Court that there is no bar on Congress president Sonia Gandhi holding high constitutional posts, though she obtained citizenship by her long stay in the country and not by birth.
“The Constitution does not make a distinction between citizens and as such no distinction can be made within the ‘single class of citizens.’ It cannot be said that natural born citizens or those covered by Article 5 stand on a higher footing than others,” the Centre said in its response to a petition filed by the Rashtriya Mukti Morcha.
The Morcha had filed a petition in the Delhi High Court for a direction to prevent Ms. Gandhi from staking a claim to form a government at the Centre on the ground that she was not an Indian by birth. It dismissed the petition.
On appeal, the apex court issued notice to the Centre seeking its response on the issue, “no person who is not a citizen within the meaning of Article 5 has the right to be elected or appointed to any public office under the Constitution.”
Article 5 says: “Every person who was born in the territory of India; or either of whose parents was born in the territory of India or who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India.”
The Centre said: “The Citizenship Act, 1955 provides for acquisition of citizenship by birth; by descent; by registration and by naturalisation. Once citizenship is acquired under the provisions of the Act, no distinction can be made in the citizenship acquired under the Act or under the Constitution.”
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