President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday rejected in the Supreme Court the plea of former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma that he was holding an office of profit on the day of filing nomination for President's election, saying he ceased to be the Leader of the Lower House as a result of his resignation from the Union Cabinet.
"The moment he resigns from the Union Cabinet, he ceases to be the Leader of the Lok Sabha and hence, cannot be said to be holding the office of profit," senior advocate Harish Salve told a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir.
Salve, appearing for Mukherjee, said either the Prime Minister is the Leader of the Lower House or he can nominate a minister in his place.
Mukherjee ceased to hold the office of Leader of the House as a result of his relinquishing the post from the Cabinet and hence, the allegation that Lok Sabha website showed Mukherjee as the leader even after filing of his nomination for the Presidential poll was of no consequence, Salve said, adding that the plea deserves to be dismissed.
Initiating arguments before the bench, also comprising justices P Sathasivam, S S Nijjar, J Chelameswar and Ranjan Gogoi, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, counsel for Sangma, objected to the mode of Mukherjee's resignation from the post of Leader of Lok Sabha.
"The letter (for resigning from post of Leader of Lok Sabha) is not addressed to any Constitutional authority but was addressed to the Party President.
"The Speaker of the House, under various rules, has to deal with this issue. Mode of relinquishing the office is much more complex and requires a role of the Speaker," he said.
In his petition, Sangma had said the veteran Congress leader was not eligible for the post as he was holding offices of profit on June 28, the day he filed his nomination for the President's election.