NEW DELHI: A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the restoration of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha Membership, who was disqualified after the court sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment in the criminal defamation case over ‘Modi surname’ remark.
Gandhi was sentenced to two years imprisonment which disqualified him as an MP from Kerala’s Wayanad under the rigours of the Representation of People Act. Supreme Court later stayed his conviction and thereafter his Lok Sabha membership was restored.
Lucknow-based advocate Ashok Pandey moved the top court seeking quashing of the notification of Lok Sabha by which Gandhi’s membership was restored.
Pandey said that once Gandhi lost his Lok Sabha membership, after being convicted in a criminal defamation case and was awarded two years of imprisonment, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha was not right in restoring back his lost membership.
The plea submitted that once a member of Parliament or of a state legislature loses his office by operation of Law in Article 102, 191 of the Constitution read with section 8 (3) of the Representation of People Act 1951, he will continue to be disqualified till he is acquitted from the charges levelled against him by some higher court.
“Rahul Gandhi lost his membership of Lok Sabha when he was convicted for defamation and was awarded two years sentence and as such the Speaker was not right in restoring his membership,” the plea stated.
The petition further submitted, “Speaker of Lok Sabha was right in declaring the loss of membership of Rahul Gandhi when he was convicted by the trial court and was awarded two years sentence but he was wrong when on the basis of an order passed by the Supreme Court staying the conviction, the order passed by him on January 13 was restored vide order impugned dated August 7.”
The High Court on July 7 affirmed the decision of a Gujarat Sessions court, which had refused to put on hold a magisterial court order on March 23 convicting Gandhi and handing out the maximum punishment provided for criminal defamation under the Indian Penal Code.
Rejecting Gandhi’s plea, the High Court has said that he has been seeking a stay on his conviction on “absolutely non-existent grounds” and a stay on conviction is not a rule but an exception.
In March, the magisterial court had convicted Gandhi for his remarks ahead of the 2019 national polls about the ‘Modi’ surname.
After the magisterial court convicted Gandhi, he approached the Sessions court, which rejected his plea for a stay on his conviction on April 20. Thereafter, he approached the High Court. He later approached the apex court for relief.
Congress leader was sentenced to two years in jail on March 23 under sections 499 and 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in a case filed by Purnesh Modi.
At a rally in Karnataka’s Kolar in April 2019, Rahul Gandhi, in a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said, “How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” (ANI)