Rahul Gandhi citizenship row: 'Proof' submitted by Swamy already dismissed by SC in December

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi makes a gesture while speaking at the Lok Sabha in New Delhi
The Parliamentary Ethics Committee today sent a show-cause notice to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, seeking his response on whether he had ever declared himself to be a British citizen. The evidence submitted with the claim, however, was dismissed by the nation’s highest court back in December 2015.

The latest allegations regarding Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship resurfaced in Parliament today, immediately sparking a political row.

 “A complaint reached the Lok Sabha speaker which she forwarded to the Parliamentary Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee, therefore, issued a show-cause notice asking him to respond to as to how he showed his British citizenship when he was about to become the director of a company in London," Arjun Ram Meghwal, a member of the panel, said.

The allegation was first made by Subramanian Swamy in late 2015 in a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the Congress leader be stripped of his citizenship. 

In the letter, Swamy claimed Rahul Gandhi had declared himself as a British citizen (2003-2009) for the purpose of floating a private company in London. "The name of the company is BACKOPS Limited and the Director and Secretary of this company was Mr. Rahul Gandhi, presently Lok Sabha MP," the letter, attached with several documents of the said company, stated.

“As you can see from the company annual return that Rahul Gandhi has given his date of birth correctly but has declared himself to be of British nationality with a United Kingdom address," the letter said.

However, the Supreme Court had, in November 2015, dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a CBI probe into Gandhi’s citizenship based on the same evidence. 

Lawyer ML Sharma, the man who filed the plea, had submitted a copy of the document where Rahul Gandhi allegedly claimed to be a British national before the authorities in connection with incorporation of a firm. The apex court dismissed the ‘frivolous’ plea and had then questioned the authenticity of the document itself. 

“How do we know whether these documents are authentic? Can we start making roving inquiries now?” the bench had told petitioner Sharma, a report in Hindustan Times said

When Sharma persisted on hearing the case, Chief Justice of India HL Dattu told him to stop, saying “I have two more days in office, don’t force me to impose exemplary costs on you.” He retired on December 2, 2016.

British or Italian?

What is even more intriguing is that Swamy himself, in September 2013, had alleged that Gandhi was an Italian citizen. 

"Rahul Gandhi can never become the Prime Minister...He is an Italian citizen. I will bring out this in details very soon," Swamy had then said, soon after his Janata Party merged with the Bharatiya Janata Party

Despite Swamy’s persistence, however, the Congress party remains mostly unfazed by the allegations.

In its defence, the Congress lashed out the ‘personal attacks’ and ‘fabricated charges’ that were being carried out against the party leader. "When the BJP has absolutely nothing left to say against the Congress, then coming out with personal attacks is their trend and they are doing just that today. We strongly reject all these fabricated charges," Congress leader PL Punia had said.

"We will deal with that," Gandhi told reporters when asked about the show-cause notice. 

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