Experts say he won’t lose membership of the Lok Sabha if a higher court stays his conviction
Rahul Gandhi arrives in Delhi after the verdict, on Thursday. Pic/PTI
A court in Surat in Gujarat on Thursday sentenced Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed over his “Modi surname” remarks. Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma, who held Gandhi guilty under IPC Sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation), also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court, his lawyer Babu Mangukiya said.
Reacting to the ruling later, Rahul tweeted, “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, non-violence the means to get it. — Mahatma Gandhi [sic].” The Congress said Gandhi will file an appeal against the Surat court’s order. The BJP was “scared” of the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi, and upset due to the way Rahul Gandhi took out the Bharat Jodo padyatra, giving fearless statements and exposing corruption, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said.
BJP MLA Purnesh Modi had filed the complaint for his alleged remark, “How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” Speaking in support of Gandhi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said, “A conspiracy is being hatched to eliminate non-BJP leaders and parties by prosecuting them. We have differences with the Congress, but it is not right to implicate Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case like this.” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad cautioned Gandhi against making defamatory remarks, saying he will find himself facing “more troubles” if he doesn’t refrain from doing so.
Also read: BJP will stage protests across Maharashtra against Rahul Gandhi: Chandrashekhar Bawankule
‘He won’t lose MP post if...’
Rahul Gandhi will not be disqualified as a member of parliament (MP) if the appellate court stays the conviction and suspends the two-year jail term awarded to him by a Surat court, legal experts said on Thursday. Senior lawyer Rakesh Dwivedi said suspension of sentence and stay of conviction were necessary to escape disqualification as a lawmaker under the Representation of the People Act. “The position as per the Lily Thomas judgment, a conviction which carries a sentence of two years or more will automatically result in disqualification. In the Lok Prahari case, it ruled that if the conviction is suspended, the disqualification will also remain suspended,” said a former Election Commission official said.
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