Kharge, Jairam rejoice over SC stay on Rahul’s conviction, ‘return’ as MP before 2024

Supreme Court has stayed the conviction of its former president Rahul Gandhi over his 2019 remark on the Modi surname

NEW DELHI | Updated: 04 August, 2023 3:49 pm IST
Following his conviction, Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha where he represented Kerala's Wayanad

NEW DELHI: The Congress party erupted in a euphoria on Friday as the Supreme Court stayed the conviction of its former president Rahul Gandhi over his 2019 remark on the Modi surname, which had led to his disqualification from parliament.

In March, Gandhi was convicted by a trial court in Gujarat’s Surat in a case filed by a BJP leader for his statement during the 2019 general elections, where he questioned, “why all thieves have Modi surname.”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge led the rejoicing by tweeting: “Truth Alone Triumphs!”

“Justice has been delivered. Democracy has won. The Constitution has been upheld. BJP’s conspiratorial hounding of Shri Gandhi has been thoroughly exposed. Time for them to stop their malicious targeting of Opposition leaders. It is high time they respect the mandate given by the people and start governing the country, on which they have miserably failed in the last 10 years,” he added.

Congress MP and communications wing in-charge Jairam Ramesh praised Gandhi for not backing down despite “the relentless efforts of the entire BJP machinery.”

“The decision of the Supreme Court is an affirmation of truth and justice. Gandhi expressed his faith in the judicial process. This is a lesson to the BJP and their minions: You may do the worst, but we will not back down. We will continue to highlight and highlight your failures as a government and as a party,” he added.

Ramesh also said that the Modi government wants to destroy India’s Constitutional ideals and institutions.

Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP and poet Imran Pratapgarhi welcomed the court’s verdict with a few lines: “Daayre me simat ke aaya hai, har rawayat se hat ke aaya hai. Aandhiyon ko khabar kar do, sher wapas palat ke aaya hai.”

The Supreme Court bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha, and PV Sanjay Kumar, which heard Gandhi’s plea challenging the Gujarat High Court’s refusal to stay the conviction, noted that the trial court had not provided reasons for awarding the maximum punishment of two years to the Congress leader.

The apex court clarified that the offence punishable under sections 498 and 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) carries a maximum penalty of two years or a fine, or both. It emphasized that only because the maximum sentence was awarded, provisions of the Representation of People Act came into play and resulted in his disqualification. The court noted that this provision would not have been triggered if the sentence was one day less.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that the ramifications of the order are extensive, impacting not only the petitioner’s right to remain in public life but also the rights of the electorate who elected him. “Considering these factors and the absence of reasons given by the trial judge for imposing the maximum sentence, the order of conviction needs to be stayed pending final adjudication,” the apex court ordered.

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