Gandhi was disqualified from parliament in March this year
NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s membership of the Lok Sabha was restored on Monday, days after the Supreme Court stayed his conviction in the Modi surname case and just a day before the debate on no-confidence motion in parliament.
Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha on March 24 following his conviction by a trial court in Gujarat’s Surat in a case stemming from his 2019 “why all thieves have Modi surname” remark.
His return means parliament is expected to witness stormy days ahead as the opposition bloc INDIA, which has been rallying behind Gandhi, looks to corner the government over steep price rise, ongoing ethnic riots in Manipur, and recent communal violence in BJP-ruled Haryana.
His conviction was stayed on Friday by the Supreme Court which observed the absence of reasons for imposing maximum sentence on the former Congress president by the trial court.
The court underscored that the offence in question, 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 clarified that the invocation of provisions from the Representation of People Act, which led to his disqualification, was solely due to the imposition of the maximum sentence. Had the sentence been a day shorter, this provision would not have been triggered.
The bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha, and PV Sanjay Kumar acknowledged the far-reaching implications of its decision and recognized the impact on both Rahul Gandhi’s political rights and the rights of the electorate who voted for him.
The Surat court had sentenced Gandhi to two years in prison for the remarks widely seen as connected to PM Modi’s surname with some fugitive businessmen. The case was filed by BJP MLA and former state minister Purnesh Modi, who argued that Gandhi had insulted the entire Modi community with his comments.
Since the Supreme Court order, the Congress party and its 25 allies had been demanding a speedy restoration of Gandhi’s membership. Several opposition leaders like Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, former Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav posted tweets, questioning the delay.