Day After Conviction In Defamation Case, Rahul Gandhi Visits Parliament
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi paid a brief visit to the Parliament this morning even as a two-year jail sentence in a defamation case threatens to cancel his Lok Sabha membership. He left after the Lok Sabha was adjourned till noon amid protests.
Mr Gandhi, a MP from Kerala’s Wayanad, was convicted yesterday and sentenced to two years in jail for his alleged remarks over the ‘Modi’ surname. A Gujarat court granted him bail for 30 day to appeal the decision.
If a Member of Parliament is convicted of any offence and is sentenced for at least two years, he attracts disqualification, according to Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Mr Gandhi “automatically” stands disqualified as a MP due to his conviction and the two-year sentencing, say some legal experts, while others say he can avoid suspension if he manages to get the conviction overturned.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat can disqualify Mr Gandhi based on the Surat court’s order, said experts. But it has not made any announcement in this regard.
Noted lawyer and BJP MP Mahesh Jethmalani told NDTV that Mr Gandhi stands disqualified under the law, but the decision has to be communicated to the Speaker.
Former law minister Kapil Sibal, who was earlier with the Congress, too said Mr Gandhi stands automatically disqualified as an MP and getting only the jail sentence suspended is not enough. Mr Gandhi can continue as an MP only if his conviction is stayed, he told NDTV.
He will also be barred from contesting elections for the next eight years if his conviction is not overturned by any higher court. He now plans to challenge the local court’s verdict in a sessions court, according to the Congress leader’s team. He will move the Supreme Court if his appeal for a freeze on the order is not accepted there.
The defamation case pertains to Mr Gandhi’s alleged “how come all thieves have Modi as the common surname” remark at a pre-election rally in Karnataka’s Kolar. A former Gujarat minister had filed a complaint alleging he had defamed the entire Modi community.
A court in Surat yesterday convicted him in the case and sentenced him to two years in jail, while also providing a 30-day window to appeal the verdict.
“My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, non-violence the means to get it,” tweeted the Wayanad MP quoting Mahatma Gandhi, in his first comment after the verdict.