The Delhi High Court has dismissed a PIL seeking to debar persons of foreign origin from holding any constitutional post and de-recognise any political party having a foreign-born person as its president.
"There is no force in the argument…that a foreign born person is not entitled to hold a public office and the political party in which one is a member or an office bearer is liable to be de-registered," said a Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kailash Gambhir dismissing the petition filed by Rashtriya Mukti Morcha in 1999.
Though the petitioner's plea for impleadment of Sonia Gandhi and the Congress in the case was earlier dismissed by the court, the PIL was basically targeted against them.
Earlier, another Bench headed by the then Chief Justice BC Patel had last year dismissed a petition filed by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy challenging the citizenship granted to Sonia Gandhi in 1983 on the ground there was a delay of over 20 years.
The NDA has been raising the issue of foreign origin persons holding constitutional posts to corner the Congress on this point.
The petitioner had contended that a citizen of foreign origin could not be elected or appointed to any public office under the Constitution including in the Union or State Council of Ministers.
Writing the judgment for the Bench, Justice Jain, who has since been appointed Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, said "If one has to follow the liberal and humane concept of ancient Indian philosophy, then what our scriptures have taught us is "Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam", ie, the whole planet is a family.
When this is the ethos of this nation and our people which have such a benevolent concept then any narrow parochial meaning de hors the provisions of law would amount to holding what is not even in the philosophy of this soil, the court said.
Giving the example of the United States where no foreign born citizen could be allowed to hold the post of president, the petitioner had contended that foreign born citizens could only enjoy civil rights and not political rights as per Indian laws.
The Government, however, had refused the arguments and pointed that political rights were guaranteed to all citizens in the preamble to the Constitution itself.
The court said "…if the founding fathers of the Constitution have not taken into consideration the concept of a natural born person for according citizenship, then by no purposeful interpretation this court will hold that a foreign born person is entitled (only) to civil rights and no other rights."
"When statute does not put limitation on the exercise of a power of a citizen this court will have no jurisdiction to hold so or to interpret in a manner to impose restriction on a foreign born person not to exercise those rights which are otherwise available to him under the statute or the provision of the Constitution," the court said.
The Bench also rejected the petitioner's argument that no effective proposals were received by the people to the draft provisions of the Constitution regarding citizenship.
"The members of the Constituent Assembly were representatives of the Indian people who had led the people against colonialism. To say that the framers of the Constiution or the members of the drafting committee of the Constitution were ignorant to the urges and aspirations of the Indian people is to put behind the wisdom, sagacity and hard labour put in by the framers of our Constitution to a nullity," the court said.
Email Satya Prakash: firstname.lastname@example.org