The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea seeking direction to the Centre and the Election Commission to debar Congress president Rahul Gandhi from contesting the Lok Sabha elections till the issue of his alleged British citizenship is decided.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi rejected the contention of the petitioners' lawyer who said that in a form along with the annual data of a United Kingdom-based company in 2005-06, it was allegedly mentioned that Rahul Gandhi is a British citizen.
"If some company in some form mentions his nationality as British, does he become a British citizen," said the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
The counsel appearing for the petitioners -- Jai Bhagwan Goyal and C P Tyagi -- told the bench that Gandhi was contesting Lok Sabha elections from two seats and aspires to become the Prime Minister despite the fact that he had allegedly acquired dual citizenship.
"If 123 crore people say that this man should be the Prime Minister, will you mind that?" the bench told the counsel.
At the outset, the bench asked the counsel, "Who are you (petitioners)? What you do for living?"
The counsel responded that petitioners are public-spirited persons, social workers and are also in politics.
"So, you are in the politics of social work?" the CJI said.
The bench then questioned the counsel as to why they have approached the court in 2019 when the matter pertains to 2005-2006 record of a company.
"It was in 2005-06? When did you come to know about this?" the bench asked.
When the lawyer said that documents had come to light only in 2015, the bench asked, "Still it took you 2019 to approach the court?"
"Heard counsel for the petitioners and perused the relevant material. We are not inclined to entertain the writ petition. The same is, accordingly, dismissed," the bench said in its order.
The plea had alleged that the petitioners were 'dissatisfied' with the 'inaction' of the Centre and the poll panel in 'deciding the question of voluntary acquisition of British citizenship' by Gandhi in spite of a November 2015 communication by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in this regard.
The petitioners had alleged that since prima facie evidence in this regard has been produced before the Home Ministry and the Election Commission, Gandhi should not have been allowed to contest the ongoing Lok Sabha elections from Amethi in Utter Pradesh and Wayanad in Kerala.
The plea had also sought a direction to the EC to remove Gandhi's name from ‘electoral roll till the decision of the question of acquisition of his British citizenship’.
In a recent letter to Gandhi, the Home Ministry had said it has received a representation from Swamy in which it has been brought out that a company named Backops Limited was registered in the United Kingdom in 2003 with Rahul Gandhi as one of its directors.
The home ministry had said Swamy's letter mentioned that in the British company's annual returns filed on October 10, 2005 and October 31, 2006, Rahul's date of birth has been given as June 19, 1970 and had declared his nationality as British.