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Business News/ News / India/  How ordinance brought by Congress in 2013 that Rahul Gandhi publicly tore has backfired him?

An ordinance which was brought by the UPA government in 2013 to shield convicted lawmakers from immediate disqualification from the House was trashed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Now after ten years, his own conviction in a defamation case by a Surat court on Thursday seems to have come back to haunt him.

Parliament on Friday disqualified Rahul Gandhi as a lawmaker after a lower court found him guilty of defamation in the “Modi surname" case. The disqualification comes a day after Rahul Gandhi was convicted by a Surat court in a defamation case and was sentenced to two years in jail.

The court had approved Rahul Gandhi's bail on a surety and stayed the sentence for 30 days to allow him to approach the higher courts.

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi's conviction: List of MPs disqualified due to court's conviction

Senior lawyer and constitutional law expert Rakesh Dwivedi had referred to the apex court's 2013 and 2018 judgments in the Lily Thomas and the Lok Prahari matters respectively and said suspension of sentence and stay of conviction were necessary to escape disqualification as a lawmaker under the Representation of the People (RP) Act. Some sources told PTI that said the Lok Sabha Secretariat will take a call on whether there was a case for Gandhi's disqualification after examining the court order and issue a notification, announcing vacancy in the lower house. 

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi Live Updates

The case pertains to a comment passed by Rahul Gandhi in a pre-election rally at Karnataka's Kolar in 2019. Gandhi had said, “How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?" Former BJP MLA and Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi had registered a complaint against Gandhi. Purnesh had said that Rahul's remark defamed the entire Modi community. Purnesh had served as a minister during the first term of Bhupendra Patel's government in Gujarat. He was re-elected from the Surat West assembly seat in the election held in December 2022. While reading to the judgement by the Court, the Surat West MLA said he welcomed the court's verdict.

But this event takes back to the time in 2013, when Rahul Gandhi, the then Vice President of Congress, tore the ordinance papers.

What happened in 2013?

In 2013, the top court, in the Lily Thomas vs Union Bank of India case, had struck down section 8(4) of the Representation of The People Act (RP Act) that gave a convicted lawmaker the power to remain in office on the grounds that appeals have been filed within three months of the conviction. In the same year, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, had attempted to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling to set aside a RP Act provision.

According to a provision of the RP Act, a person sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more shall be disqualified "from the date of such conviction" and remain disqualified for another six years after serving time. Section 8 of the RP Act provides for offences in which a lawmaker would entail disqualification upon conviction.

On 28 September 2013, it was Gandhi who had opposed the ordinance in a press conference and tore the ordinance in a press conference as a token of protest.

During a public media interaction, Gandhi tore the ordinance publicly and had said, “I will tell you what my opinion on the ordinance is. It's complete nonsense and it's my personal opinion. It should be torn up and thrown out."

(With inputs from agencies)



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Updated: 24 Mar 2023, 03:51 PM IST
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