New Delhi: The returning officer for the Rajya Sabha elections today accepted the nomination papers of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate N.D. Gupta, and offered to hand over the certificate to him for the polls to be held on January 16. The development thus put to rest the controversy which had arisen after the Delhi unit president of the Congress, Ajay Maken, accused Gupta of holding an office of profit at the time of filing his nomination.
Though the decision on the nomination had been put off on Saturday (January 6) following Maken’s objection, the returning officer today approved the nomination.
Emerging from the election office after Maken’s plea had been dismissed, Gupta said, “The officer said your papers are in order and you can collect your certificate in the evening.” He further asserted that his resignation from the post of trustee of the National Pension Trust had no relation to his nomination. “My nomination would have remained valid even if I had held the post. This trust is exempt from the Prevention of Disqualification Act. There was an amendment in the case of Sonia Gandhi and this trust was exempted,” he said.
Gupta in his statement was referring to the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 which declared that certain offices of profit shall not disqualify their holders. The Act had been amended several times to exempt holders of various offices from the office of profit law.
After Sonia, a member of the Lok Sabha, was appointed the chairperson of national advisory council by the UPA I government, a complaint was lodged against her for holding an office of profit and she had quit as an MP and sought re-election. The Prevention of Disqualification Act was subsequently amended in 2006 to make further additions to the exemption list.
National executive member of AAP and another party candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections, Sanjay Singh, who was accompanying Gupta, claimed that Maken’s complain was “baseless” and meant to only get some “cheap publicity” and to defame Gupta and get his nomination rejected. But now, he said, “the truth has come to the fore”.
Singh claimed that Gupta had not filed his nomination while holding any office of profit. He too insisted that the office from which Gupta had resigned did not fall into the category of office of profit. “When the complaint does not fall into the category of violation of office of profit, the Congress’s insistence on the matter for two days shows the mental bankruptcy in the party.”
In his complaint, Maken had sought the rejection of the nomination of Gupta under Article 102 of the constitution. He had claimed that Gupta “is currently holding the office of the trustee of the National Pension System Trust” as per the latest information available on the official website of the NPS. Stating that NPS is “almost an extension of the Ministry of Finance and Department of Pension”, he had noted that it was an office which virtually discharges the functions of the government itself as there is a very important public element attached to the same. Moreover, Maken had also claimed that “an office of a Trustee of the NPS is entitled to remuneration, emoluments, perks and other facilities. Therefore by virtue of the said benefits attached to the office of N.D. Gupta, he is currently holding an office of profit.”
After the election officer rejected his complaint, Maken tweeted that he wanted to raise a concern despite the fact that Gupta’s election to the Rajya Sabha was a foregone conclusion.