Rahul Gandhi row: Days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as a Member of Parliament in a defamation case, the US Department of State said that it is keeping a close watch over the development in Indian courts. Addressing the media on Monday (local time), US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said that Washington engages with New Delhi on a shared commitment to democratic values, including freedom of expression.
"Respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy, and we're watching Mr Gandhi's (Rahul Gandhi) case in Indian courts," he said while responding to a question regarding Rahul Gandhi's expulsion from the Indian Parliament.
What US said on Rahul Gandhi issue?
Earlier on March 23, the Congress leader was disqualified as a Member of Lok Sabha in a defamation case over his 'Modi surname' remark. "We continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles and the protection of human rights including freedom of expression as a key to strengthening both our democracies," Vedant Patel added.
When asked whether the US is engaging with India or Rahul Gandhi, he said, "I don't have any specific engagements to read out... but as I am sure you know some of these covered this department for some time it is normal and standard for us to engage with members of opposition parties in any country where we have bilateral relationships but I don't have any specific engagement to read out."
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Surat court sentences Rahul Gandhi to 2 years in jail
It should be mentioned here that a court in Gujarat's Surat sentenced Congress leader Gandhi to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his "Modi surname" remarks.
However, soon after the court granted him bail and a time period of 30 days to appeal against the quantum of punishment. The case was filed against Gandhi for his alleged “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” He stated this while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Notably, the complaint against his remarks was lodged by BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi.
(With inputs from ANI)