EC Rejects Demand to Disqualify Sonia

The Election Commission has rejected by majority opinion the demand for disqualification of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi as a Member of Parliament for receiving a foreign award. The Congress welcomed the Commission’s decision.

By a 2-1 vote, the Commission overturned the incumbent Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami’s opinion that an investigation is essential to get to the bottom of the complaint against Ms Gandhi receiving the ‘Order of Leopold’, the second highest civilian honour in Belgium. The honour was given to her during a visit to that country in November 2006.

According to well placed sources, Navin Chawla, who is slated succeed N Gopalaswami on Tuesday, and S Y Quraishi knocked over the incumbent CEC’s opinion. The Commission has sent its view to President Pratibha Patil for her final decision. Under the conduct of business rules in the Election Commission, in case of difference of opinion among the three commissioners, the majority view will prevail.

Congress has welcomed the Commission’s decision. “We welcome the EC’s decision. The EC decided to clear Sonia themselves. We were not approached (by the EC),” senior party leader Kapil Sibal said.

The controversy arose out of a petition from a Kerala advocate who had sought the disqualification of Ms Gandhi for accepting the Belgian honour.

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