In a rare split verdict, the Election Commission on Wednesday decided to serve a notice on Congress President Sonia Gandhi on a complaint seeking her disqualification for receiving a Belgian honour.
After discussing for days, marked by differences on whether to issue a notice or not, the three-member Commission by a 2-1 vote decided to issue her a notice seeking her views on the 'Order of Leopold' conferred on her by the Belgian government in 2006, EC sources said.
The Commission usually takes decisions by consensus and split vedicts are rare. During the days of the tempestuous TN Seshan, the other two election commissioners voted out his decisions on a few occasions.
The Commission also decided to write to the External Affairs Ministry seeking further details about the award which the complainant, a Kerala advocate, contended made Gandhi owe allegience to the Belgian government.
The Commission acted on a Presidential referrence following the petition which sought her disqualification as a Lok Sabha member.
Under the Constitution, the President is bound to act according to the Commission's advice on such matters.
Gandhi was conferred the 'Order of Leopold', the second highest civilian award in Belgium, and an honorary doctorate by the Belgian government during her visit to the European country in November, 2006.
The petitioner has contended that receiving of the Belgian honour amounted to owing allegiance to the Constitution of that country.
The Congress has dismissed as "laughable" the complaint with party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi saying there was no basis for the petition.