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MHA serves notice to Rahul Gandhi on complaint questioning citizenship

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New Delhi, Apr 30 :  In a move which may stir up a hornet's nest during the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, the Home Ministry has served a notice to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, asking him to clarify within a fortnight his "factual position" on a complaint questioning his citizenship status.

The notice was served following a representation from BJP's Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy.

Citing Swamy's letter, the Home Ministry said it has been brought out that a company named Backops Limited was registered in the United Kingdom in 2003 with Gandhi as one of its directors.

As a row erupted Tuesday on the notice to the Congress chief, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Lucknow said it is a normal process and "not a big development".

Swamy's letter also mentioned that in the British company's annual returns filed on October 10, 2005, and October 31, 2006, Gandhi's date of birth has been given as June 19, 1970, and he had declared his nationality as British, the ministry said.

"Further, in the dissolution application dated February 17, 2009, of the above referred company, your nationality has been mentioned as British.

"You are requested to intimate the factual position in the matter to this ministry within a fortnight of the receipt of this communication," the notice issued by the Home Ministry on Monday said.

In November 2015, the Supreme Court had dismissed a public interest litigation seeking a CBI investigation into the citizenship of Gandhi while noting that PIL pleas were not meant to target one individual or organisation but was a medium to resolve human suffering through good governance.

A bench of then Chief Justice of India H L Dattu and justice Amitava Roy had rubbished the plea questioning the source and authenticity of the documents attached to a petition.

In 2016, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had forwarded to the Parliamentary Ethics Committee, headed by veteran BJP leader L K Advani, Swamy's "complaint of ethical misconduct" against Gandhi that he had accessed documents in which the Congress leader had called himself "British".

In his reply to the ethics committee on the allegations of British citizenship, Gandhi had said he had never "sought or acquired British citizenship" and that his "identity is that of an Indian".

Gandhi also questioned the committee's decision to look into a "complaint that is not in order", claiming it was "an endeavour to malign" him.

The panel had issued him a notice, seeking an explanation to whether he had once declared himself a British citizen on the legal papers of a company in the United Kingdom.

Rajnath Singh said, "When a Member of Parliament writes to any ministry, action required is taken. It is not a big development, it is a normal process."

The Congress said the entire world knows Gandhi is an Indian citizen by birth.

The seven-phase Lok sabha elections is underway of which four phases were completed on Monday.

Gandhi is seeking re-election from Uttar Pradesh's Amethi Lok Sabha constituency which goes to polls in the fifth phase of voting on May 6.

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