Supreme Court asks Cong MP to prove nationality

New Delhi, Jan 19 | Updated: Jan 20 2007, 05:31am hrs
The Congress party found itself in an uncomfortable situation on Friday after the Supreme Court raised questions about the citizenship of one of its MPs from Assam, Mani Kumar Subba, contending that the CBI was unable to conclusively establish his nationality even after a lengthy investigation.

Virtually pulling up the CBI for their inability to provide satisfactory evidence in support of Subbas contention that he was an Indian national, the apex court gave the investigating agency, as well as Subba, six weeks to come up with basic documentation relating to identification like birth certificate, school certificate, etc.

The court was anguished that the CBI gave predominance to the highly suspicious documents and affidavits filed by the Lok Sabha member from Tezpur for contesting the elections while investigating the issue and not puting the onus on him to prove his nationality.

Subbas nationality was questioned in a PIL filed by Noida-based Birendra Nath Singh, who has alleged that the lottery baron is actually an escaped Nepalese convict, who fled to India in the early 1970s after a criminal case was registered against him in Nepal. Subba, who has funded elections of several senior Congress leaders, is a three-time MP besides having been an MLA in Assam. Fighting Subbas case in the Supreme Court is senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, who is also the party spokesperson.

A two-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice D K Jain was perturbed that the CBI in its report only said there was nothing to establish that he was a Nepalese citizen.

Making it clear that such a contention was not enough, the Bench said prima facie there are serious allegations and we have to take serious view. The Bench was not impressed with the arguments of Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian and Singhvi that the CBI had gone into the depth of the matter with the Nepalese government and even taken the help of the Interpol and it was only a witch-hunt aimed at maligning Subba.

First find out what is in India then go to Nepal, the Bench told the ASG.

Subba has to prove nationality. He has to prove his credentials, the Bench said when the ASG tried to convince the court that the allegations against the MP were not true as he was born in a village in Darjeeling district in West Bengal from where his famliy migrated to Sikkim and then to Assam.