Business News/ News / India/  Rahul Gandhi expelled as Lok Sabha member

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, a lawmaker for 19 years, was on Friday disqualified as a member of Lok Sabha, a day after a trial court in Surat held him guilty of criminal defamation and sentenced him to a two-year jail term for a remark he made ahead of the 2019 national polls about the Modi surname.

Hours after his disqualification, Gandhi tweeted, “I am fighting for the voice of India. I am ready to pay any cost." Congress leaders argued that nine days after Gandhi questioned the government on Adani during his speech in the President’s speech debate in the Lok Sabha, the defamation case against Gandhi gets fast-tracked by the complainant withdrawing his own stay in the high court. The disqualification triggered outbursts against the government from different political quarters. From Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, many political leaders slammed the ruling dispensation for the “new low in a constitutional democracy."

The Congress claimed Gandhi, a member of Parliament of Wayanad, had been targeted after his Bharat Jodo Yatra showed a new future, his speech on the Adani scam exposed the scam and when 16 parties united in demanding a JPC on Adani-Hindenburg. The party vowed to fight politically and legally and announced a series of protests.

“Nine days after Rahul Gandhi’s Adani speech in LS on 7 February, the defamation case against him gets fast-tracked by the complainant withdrawing his own stay in the HC on 16 February. On 27 February, arguments resumed after one year. 17th March judgement reserved. This is no coincidence," Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted.

The party said it had started the process of going to a sessions court in Gujarat to get a stay on the conviction in the next 30 days (otherwise, Gandhi would go to jail). Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi, who will now handle Gandhi’s appeal to the sessions court, said, “Our top priority is to get a stay in the conviction. If the Election Commission tries to notify Lok Sabha by-election in Wayanad, we will move another petition."

Singhvi pointed at three major loopholes in the way Gandhi was disqualified by the Lok Sabha secretariat. “Disqualification has to be done by President after taking a legal opinion. While the Election Commission said Lok Sabha Speaker can do it in a criminal case, EC order is not above the highest law of the land, the Constitution."

In a series of tweets, he also spoke about the enthusiasm of the petitioner and the speed at which the case went. “Amazing alacrity and sudden change of tactics by the complainant. 16.04.19 complaint filed; 24.06.21 RG appears personally at Surat; 07.03.22 seeks and gets stay on his own complaint at HC Gujarat; All quiet for a year," Singhvi said, “RGs fiery speech in LS on 07.02.23; Suddenly complainant withdraws own stay from HC on 16.02.23; CJM resumes on arguments; reserves orders 17.03.23. Order on 23.03.23." In a notification, the Lok Sabha secretariat said he had been disqualified from the day of the conviction under the Constitution’s Article 102(1)(e), read with Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act. Earlier in the day, a Lok Sabha official said the background work on a decision on the disqualification started last night itself and that it didn’t take much time to prepare the file and get legal approval as there are precedents of disqualification from the Lok Sabha. Gandhi is the third MP to be disqualified from the Lower House in the 17th Lok Sabha after Samajwadi Party lawmaker Azam Khan (March last year) and NCP’s Mohammad Faizal, who was disqualified this January.

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Updated: 24 Mar 2023, 11:23 PM IST
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