After a split opinion, the Election Commission on Friday served a notice on Congress President Sonia Gandhi on a disqualification complaint against her for receiving a Belgian honour, triggering a political row.
The three-member Commission, headed by Chief Election Commission N Gopalaswamy, asked her to respond within three weeks.
The Commission also asked the External Affairs Ministry to furnish details within three weeks about Gandhi receiving the 'Order of Leopold' from the Belgium government in November 2006.
This followed a complaint from an advocate from Kerala seeking her disqualification from the Lok Sabha alleging it amounted to owing allegiance to the Constitution of that country.
The three-member Commission, which takes decisions by consensus, could not come to a conclusion on the issue earlier because of differences among them on whether to issue notice to Gandhi or not.
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.
Reacting to the development, Congress spokesman Shakil Ahmed said that Gandhi had done "nothing wrong" by accepting the award and several leaders in the past had been bestowed with such honours.
Besides, he said, India has also given awards to several global leaders.
The BJP, however, sought to turn it into a controversy by asking Gandhi to "clear the cloud of suspicion" over her allegiance to a foreign country. Party spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudi said the EC could not have served such a notice unless there was "very substantial evidence".