A court in Surat in Gujarat on Thursday sentenced Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his “Modi surname” remarks who had made the remarks while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
After the conviction, what would be the political implication for the Congress leader? Delhi High Court lawyer Tejveer Singh Bhatia in an exclusive interview with India TV reflects upon what lies ahead for Rahul Gandhi. "Two things have become clear firstly, he is accepting that he has given that statement and secondly, he does not want mercy. Rahul Gandhi can appeal against the conviction in a month. But if it is rejected, he will lose membership from both Houses of the Parliament and will also be not able to contest elections for the next 6 years."
Bhatia also said, "Rahul Gandhi will now have to take an order from the upper court within 30 days, quashing the Surat Sessions court verdict." "In order to save his membership from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Rahul Gandhi can appeal in High Court and eventually he can also move Supreme Court," he added.
When contacted, Uttara Babbar, Advocate on Record, Supreme Court said that under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, Rahul Gandhi has 90 days to appeal in a higher court to get a stay on his conviction.
Earlier, Ketan Reshamwala, Advocate for Purnesh Modi said, "Rahul Gandhi has been convicted u/s 499 and 500 of IPC. The sentence awarded is for 2 years and against that sentence, he has pleaded that he may be released on bail till the appeal period as per law, the Court has granted him bail for 30 days and until appeal, the sentence is suspended by the Court."
What is the Law
In its judgment dated July 10, 2013, the Supreme Court, while disposing the Lily Thomas v. Union of India case (along with Lok Prahari v. Union of India), ruled that any Member of Parliament (MP), Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) or Member of a Legislative Council (MLC) who is convicted of a crime and given a minimum of two years' imprisonment, loses membership of the House with immediate effect.