Former Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from the Lok Sabha following his conviction in the ‘Modi’ surname defamation case. On March 24, the Lok Sabha Secretariat issued the notification of Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Lok Sabha.
The notification states, “Consequent upon his conviction by the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat in C.C./18712/2019, Shri Rahul Gandhi, Member of Lok Sabha representing the Wayanad Parliamentary Constituency of Kerala stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction i.e. 23 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.”
On March 23, a Surat District Court held Congress leader Rahul Gandhi guilty in a 2019 criminal defamation case and sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years imprisonment over his remarks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname.
Rahul Gandhi pleaded not guilty in front of the Surat court in October 2019. As per the case Rahul was charged under sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the IPC. However, the Surat District Court sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years imprisonment u/s 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for his remarks against the ‘Modi’ surname.
It is pertinent to note that u/s 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, “a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for no less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a period of six years since his release.”
It is pertinent to note that on February 13, 2023, Azam Khan’s son and former Samajwadi Party MLA Abdullah Azam Khan also lost his MLA seat from Suar, Rampur constituency in the 2008 Chhajlet case after being sentenced to two years imprisonment with an Rs. 3000/- fine. Abdullah Azam Khan’s disqualification from the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly was effected from the date of his conviction.
Abdullah Azam Khan’s fate mimicked his father’s as Azam Khan lost his Rampur seat. Azam Khan’s Rampur seat was declared “vacant” after being convicted in the hate speech case connected to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Rahul Gandhi tearing the UPA’s Ordinance
In 2013, the Congress-led UPA Government introduced the Representation of the People (Second Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013 in an attempt to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Section 8(4) of the Act deferred a sentenced representative’s conviction by 3 months to allow them to appeal before a higher court and prevent disqualification. The UPA Government’s amendment proposed that the convicted representatives would not be disqualified immediately after conviction.
On September 24, 2013, the UPA Government attempted to bring the amendment into effect as an Ordinance before the verdict in Congress ally and RJD supremo Lalu Yadav’s fodder scam case. However, Rahul Gandhi called the Ordinance “complete nonsense that should be torn up and thrown away,” and tore the Ordinance during the press conference. Thereafter, the UPA Government withdrew the Ordinance and the Bill.
In October 2013, Lalu Yadav was disqualified from the Lok Sabha and barred from contesting elections for 11 years which included his 5-year imprisonment and 6-year bar subsequent to his release under the Act.
Former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s resignation letter claimed that “Rahul Gandhi demolished the entire consultative mechanism of the Congress after he entered politics, particularly after he was made the party vice president by Sonia Gandhi,” referring to Rahul Gandhi’s tearing the Ordinance during a press conference.