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Will Rahul Gandhi be disqualified as MP? Ball in Speaker's court

According to the rule book, the Speaker is well within rights to disqualify the Wayanad MP following his conviction in the case. 

Will Rahul Gandhi be disqualified as MP? Ball in Speaker's court
First Published Mar 23, 2023, 2:02 PM IST

Will Rahul Gandhi be disqualified as a Member of Parliament following his conviction in the criminal defamation case by a court in Surat, Gujarat? That's the big question doing the rounds in the political circles and the main worry for the Congress party. If one was to go as per the rulebook, there seems no doubt that the Wayanad MP's disqualification is a matter of time.

Senior Government advisor Kanchan Gupta took to Twitter to shed some light on the matter. Citing the In Lily Thomas vs Union of India judgment of July 10, 2013, Supreme Court ruled that 'any MP, MLA or MLC who is convicted of a crime and given a minimum of 2 years' jail, loses membership of the House with immediate effect'.

He further said, "In a democracy, nobody, absolutely nobody is above the law. All are equal. The law, therefore, equally applies to Rahul Gandhi."

What does the rule book say?

According to the rule book, the Speaker is well within his rights to disqualify the Wayanad MP following his conviction in the case. The Surat court, which held Gandhi guilty under Indian Penal Code sections 499 and 500, also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court. Even though 30 days have been allotted, the order, which will put the sentence on hold till the time appeal has been decided, will have to come from a higher court. Till then, the speaker is well within his rights to order disqualification. 

According to Section 8 of the Representation of People Act, a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years from his release.

BJP reminds Rahul of UPA-era Ordinance

BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi reminded Rahul Gandhi about the time during the UPA-era when Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister, some MPs like Sharad Yadav had sought that disqualification based on sentencing in cases should be revised from two to five years. Rahul Gandhi had then dumped the ordinance that allowed the convicted member to continue while the appeal was pending. He, in fact, had said that ordinance was 'complete nonsense and that, in his personal opinion, it should be torn up and thrown away.

Congress defends Rahul

Several Congress leaders, including party president Mallikarjun Kharge and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, spoke out angrily on the matter. 

"A scared machinery of power is trying to suppress the voice of Rahul Gandhi through 'saam, daam, dand, bhed' (every trick in the book)," Priyanka Gandhi said in Hindi on Twitter. "My brother has never been afraid, nor will he ever be. He has lived is life speaking the truth, and will continue to speak the truth. Will continue to raise the voice of the country's people," she said.

Saying that an appeal will be filed in the matter, Kharge slammed the BJP. If they point one finger at others, there are four fingers pointed at them as well, he said on Twitter. The Congress said in a tweet in Hindi, "Everyone knows, Rahul Gandhi ji is raising his voice against a dictator. Showing the courage to call a wrong a wrong. The dictator is rattled by this courage. He is trying to intimidate sometimes via ED, sometimes via police, sometimes via case, sometimes via punishment."

With PTI Inputs

Also Read: 'Truth is my God': Rahul Gandhi quotes Mahatma Gandhi after conviction in 'Modi surname' case

Also Read: 'Disagree with court decision...' AAP offers rare support to Congress after Rahul Gandhi's sentencing

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