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Three Days After SC Stays Defamation Conviction, Lok Sabha Reinstates Rahul Gandhi

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed his conviction in a defamation case in which a Surat court had earlier found him guilty and handed him the maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment – leading to his disqualification from the Lok Sabha. 

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha Secretariat has cleared Rahul Gandhi’s return to the parliament on Monday, three days after the Supreme Court stayed the Congress leader’s conviction in a defamation case against him.

“In view of order dated 04.08.23 of the Supreme Court of India, the disqualification of Shri Rahul Gandhi, notified vide Gazette Notification no 21/4(3)/2023TO(B) dated 24th 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, has ceased to operate subject to further judicial pronouncements,” the Lok Sabha Secretariat said in a notification on Monday.

The move comes after the Supreme Court on Friday stayed his conviction in a defamation case in which a Surat court had earlier found him guilty and handed him the maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment – leading to his disqualification from the Lok Sabha.

The Gujarat high court had refused to stay the conviction, after which Gandhi had appealed in the Supreme Court.

The restoration of his Lok Sabha membership comes as Congress leaders as well as the members of the INDIA alliance questioned the time taken by the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to restore his membership, in contrast with the haste in which it had been revoked.

Gandhi’s Lok Sabha membership was revoked within 24 hours of the Surat judgment.

Earlier, Congress’s leader of house in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had said over the weekend that he had written to the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and the Secretariat but had not received a response.

“Supreme Court said that it is staying the conviction of Rahul Gandhi. What does it mean? It means that he will get the opportunity to participate in the Parliamentary proceedings once again…The speed with which Rahul Gandhi was disqualified, should be the same to reinstate him,” said Chowdhury to reporters on Saturday morning.

“I called up the Speaker last night in this connection. Speaker suggested meeting him the next day. As per his suggestion, when I called him up once again this morning, he told me to speak to the Secretary-General and submit the documents to his office. I called up the Secretary-General who said that his office is closed today and told me to submit the letter to the Speaker…I sent the letter by post. They signed the letter but did not stamp it,” he added.

After Gandhi’s membership was restored, the Congress said that it welcomed the development even though it was delayed.

Mohabbat ne nafrat ko hara diya (Love has defeated hate),” said Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh, Congress spokesperson to The Wire.

Vallabh added that the move was welcome, “although it was not with the same speed as the disqualification after the Surat judgment”.

“Now Modi and Rahul will be in parliament  together and be ready for questions in parliament on the Adani group and more importantly when Manipur was burning and is still burning, where was Modiji?

“You have to answer you and you cannot run away from that now,” he said.

When asked if Gandhi will speak on the no-confidence motion debate scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, Vallabh said that the party’s parliamentary committee will decide.

“But yes, he is our senior leader and all Congress workers want that he should speak in parliament and raise questions like he used to,” said Vallabh.

The defamation case was filed against Gandhi for his comments in Kolar before the 2019 elections.

The case was filed by BJP leader Purnesh Modi who said saying that he had defamed the ‘Modi community’.

“I have a question. Why do all these thieves have Modi in their names whether it is Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi? We don’t know how many more such Modis will come out,” Gandhi had said.