There seems to be no end to UPA candidate Pratibha Patil’s problems. The Supreme Court will on Tuesday hear a PIL urging it to direct the Election Commission (EC) to cancel her nomination, even as an NGO moved the Delhi High Court on Monday accusing her of violating the office-of-profit clause. The NGO too has sought the high court’s intervention in getting Patil disqualified from contesting the presidential poll.
Manohar Lal Sharma, a Delhi-based advocate, has sought the cancellation of Patil’s candidature on the grounds that she is an undischarged insolvent, because the sugar factory of which she was founder member and chairperson owes Rs 17.7 crore to the Mumbai District Co-operative Bank.
Sharma on Monday mentioned this to an apex court bench, which was initially reluctant to hear the case during vacations. But when Sharma said July 4 was the last date for withdrawal, the bench fixed the matter for Tuesday.
Sharma has based his petition on various reports regarding the debt Patil’s sugar factory owes the bank as well as an embezzlement case against the Pratibha Mahil Sahkari Bank set up by Patil.
In the meantime, the NGO ‘Indraprastha People’ submitted before the high court that the EC had failed to take action on a letter from it, pointing out several "irregularities" and "posts of profit" held by Patil. "The petitioner seeks the attention of this court on the point that there is no provision in our Constitution to file suit/complaint/petition against the President, and that is why, if Mrs Pratibha Patil is elected, thousands who have lost their money in her bank will have no way to get justice." The EC and Patil have been made parties in the petition.
Invoking clause 12 of the presidential election rules, which holds a candidate ineligible if found to be holding an office of profit, the NGO claimed Patil was managing trustee of the Shram Sadhna Bombay Trust and supervisory authority of an engineering college of the same name in Jalgaon, both allegedly controlled by the Maharashtra government.