Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Feb 14:
The widow of late Hemendra Chandra Singh and BJD MP from Kandhamal Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh has claimed in a written statement before the Odisha High Court that she is an Indian and urged it to dismiss all petitions questioning her origin. The court has fixed the next date of hearing in the case for March 4.
The BJD MP filed her written statement on Saturday in response to a notice issued to her by the High Court last month in connection with an election petition filed by former Kandhamal MP Rudra Madhav Ray, who had lost to Pratyusha in the October 2014 by-elections to the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat.
The seat had fallen vacant after Hemendra Chandra Singh’s sudden demise months after being elected from the seat in the 2014 general elections.
Ray had challenged the BJD leader’s election stating that she did not qualify to be a Member of Parliament as she is a citizen of Nepal and has not accepted Indian citizenship yet.
In her statement, Pratyusha has refuted Ray’s charges and has claimed that she is an Indian born in India to a Nepalese father and an Indian mother.
She has further claimed that she was born at Ranchi in India while her parents were staying there for a period of time.
In another application to the High Court, the BJD parliamentarian has urged the court to dismiss the petition of Ray at the threshold as it lacks merit.
Ray’s counsel Gopal Agarwal sought to file a rejoinder in the matter following which the single-judge bench of Justice Biswanath Rath adjourned the matter to March 4.
In December last year, the High Court had served a notice to Pratyusha on a quo warranto writ petition filed by social activist Dr Subash Mohapatra, challenging her election to Lok Sabha on the ground that she was a “citizen” of Nepal.
The court had issued notices to Pratyusha, Election Commission of India, State Election Officer, Lok Sabha Speaker, State and Union Home departments and Kandhamal and Nayagarh district collectors asking them to respond to the petition as to why she should not be disqualified.
The petitioner had said that according to Representation of People Act, Singh is automatically disqualified from becoming a Member of Parliament as she continues to be a citizen of Nepal.
Pratyusha had won the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat in the October 15 bypoll defeating BJP’s Rudra Madhab Ray by a margin of over three lakh votes.