HomeNewsIndia's Rahul Gandhi reinstated as parliament member

India’s Rahul Gandhi reinstated as parliament member

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Rahul Gandhi, a senior leader of India’s main opposition Congress party, smiles during a press conference in New Delhi, India, on August 4, 2023. — Reuters
  • Rahul Gandhi was away from parliament for four months.
  • He was sentenced to 2 years for comments he made in 2019.
  • SC last Friday suspended two-year sentence of Gandhi.

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s membership in Lok Sabha — the lower house of India’s bicameral parliament — was restored Monday, local media reported, after remaining away from the parliament for four months.

The development came after Indian Supreme Court suspended the two-year sentence of the opposition leader for defaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following which the speaker restored his membership.

Rahul Gandhi was sentenced to two years for comments he made in 2019 that a court ruled, insulting to Modi and those sharing his last name.

Anyone sentenced to a custodial term of two years or more is ineligible to sit in India’s parliament, and the initial verdict forced Gandhi’s expulsion from the body in March.

His conviction stemmed from a remark made during the 2019 election campaign when he asked why “all thieves have Modi as [their] common surname”, in a jibe at Modi.

In his 731-page submission to the Supreme Court, Gandhi said his speech was made “in the course of democratic political activity”.

His sentence was “gravely detrimental to democratic free speech”, added the document, which his party provided to AFP.

Modi’s government has been widely accused of using the defamation law to silence critics.

Gandhi, the scion of a dynasty that has given India three prime ministers, was sentenced to two years imprisonment, but the jail term was put on hold, and he was given bail.

An official statement regarding the restoration of Gandhi’s membership said, “In continuation of Notification No. 21/4(3)/2023/TO(B), dated the 24th March, 2023, the Supreme Court of India has passed an order on 04.08.2023 in Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No. 8644/2023, staying the conviction of Rahul Gandhi, Member of Lok Sabha representing the Wayanad Parliamentary Constituency of Kerala, which was ordered by the judgment dated23.03.2023 of the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat in C.C./ 18712/2019.”

“In view of order dated 04.08.2023 of the Supreme Court of India, the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi, notified vide Gazette Notification no. 21/4(3)/2023/TO(B) dated the 24th March, 2023 in terms of the provisions of Article 102(1)(e) of the Constitution of India read with Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, has ceased to operate subject to further judicial pronouncements,” it added.

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