The scrutiny of nomination of AAP Rajya Sabha candidate N. D. Gupta was put on hold till Monday by the Returning Officer over Congress allegations concerning his holding office of profit.
The nomination of Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) two other candidates – Sanjay Singh and Sushil Gupta – for the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha were approved, party leaders said.
The scrutiny of nomination of N.D. Gupta was deferred following Congress complaint with the Returning Officer Nidhi Srivastava – its second complaint of the day – saying that Gupta had not resigned as chairman of the Audit Committee of the National Pension Scheme Trust.
Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken said Gupta’s nomination paper has not been cleared on Saturday. He said the Congress was called for hearing on party’s complaint on Saturday evening.
“I think he (Gupta) has been issued a fresh notice. We have been asked to submit our written submissions by tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon. There could be discussion on Monday morning. Our main complaint is that it comes in the domain of office of profit as he is chairman of the audit committee (of NPS). As chairman of audit committee, there is no protection (under office of profit),” he said.
AAP took strong exception to the scrutiny of party nominee being deferred till Monday, saying it was unprecedented.
“The law prescribes only the candidates or its election agents to raise objections at the stage of scrutiny of nominations. However here, Maken’s objections are not only considered but were invited at the time of scrutiny. This is unprecedented in the history of election nominations,” party leader Saurabh Bhardwaj said.
“Further, due to lack of knowledge or under pressure, the RO invited Maken to lead evidence before the RO. This is evidence hunting and is defying all laid down principles,” he added.
Bhardwaj said the law is very clear about who can file objections at time of nomination. “Now, if one lakh people file objections, will the ROs give individual hearing to all such people. Will one lakh people lead evidence and arguments. Will this become an unending civil suit?
“Instead of deciding the nomination, the RO has reserved the order making it further susceptible to external influence,” he said.
Maken said Gupta has attended meetings of audit committee of NPS.
In a letter to the Returning Officer, he noted that Narayan Dass Gupta is also the chairman of Audit Committee of National Pension Scheme Trust and he has been appointed as a chairman from September 8, 2015 and it is “pertinent to mention that Gupta has not resigned from the Chairmanship of Audit Committee of NPS Trust till date”.
The Congress had earlier alleged that Gupta had been appointed as trustee of the NPS on March 30, 2015. Following the complaint, the Returning Officer had written a letter to Gupta. In his detailed reply, Gupta referred to various exemptions under the office of profit and also said that he had resigned from the trust on December 29, 2017.
AAP leader Raghav Chadha also defended Gupta, saying that he had resigned from the post of Trustee of the NPS and the Congress was only raising frivolous objections to gain cheap publicity.
Maken also said that it was also contented that N.D. Gupta has not mentioned about the legal requirement of 30 days notice for resigning as trustee in a reply submitted before the Returning Officer.
“It was also submitted before the RO that N.D. Gupta has not given any proof to the effect that his resignation was accepted by the NPS Trust,” he added.
Three Rajya Sabha vacancies had arisen in Delhi due to end of tenure of Congress members later this month.
AAP is set to win the three seats due to its vast majority in the Delhi assembly. The last date of withdrawal of candidature is January 8.