‘Beyond my powers to probe Mukherjee’s signature’

July 11th, 2012 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) The returning officer for the presidential poll said Wednesday it was beyond his powers to conduct a detailed probe into objections on UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee’s nomination papers.

While interacting with journalists at Indian Women’s Press Corps, V.K. Agnihotri, also the Rajya Sabha secretary general, cited rules and said the returning officer only had the right to conduct a summery or preliminary enquiry.

“The law says returning officer can only have a summery enquiry. We had limited time. In two days, I could not have asked witnesses to come. This was not a regular court,” he said.

He also said he had no reasons to doubt that the signature on the resignation letter was not real since Mukherjee had approved it.

“Mukherjee said he had resigned. As far as the issue of the signature is concerned, a signature is considered fraud when the person, whose signature has been copied, complains. Once the letter was produced to the returning officer, I had no reason to believe it was forged because Mukherjee said it was his,” he said.

Agnihotri had come under the attack of the team backing presidential candidate Purno Sangma after he rejected their application to cancel Mukherjee’s nomination.

Sangma’s team had alleged that Mukherjee was holding an office of profit as chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) when he filed his nomination as president.

Mukherjee, however, produced his resignation letter dated June 20 with an acceptance from the ISI.

Subsequently, Sangma’s request was rejected and Mukherjee’s nomination was accepted.

Sangma’s team however has alleged that the signature on the resignation letter was forged and had gone to the election commission demanding rejection of his nomination.

The commission too rejected the demand.

The team is now contemplating approaching the Supreme Court with an election petition.

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