Consequent upon his conviction by the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat, Lok Sabha MP Rahul Gandhi representing the Wayanad parliamentary constituency of Kerala, stands disqualified from the membership of the lower house from the date of his conviction. This order was issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on March 24 and signed by Secretary General, Lok Sabha. Gandhi was granted bail on March 23 by the Surat district court in Gujarat after convicting him and sentencing him to two years in a criminal defamation case against him over his alleged ‘Modi surname’ remark in April 2019. Gandhi should secure a stay on the conviction and sentence from the higher court and he should also challenge the notification issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
The Lok Sabha notification is not illegal against the backdrop of the apex court judgment, but in the overall picture, it appears that the notification was issued in haste. Gandhi’s fate in electoral politics now depends only upon the legal relief that he can get from the courts as the Election Commission may likely declare his seat vacant and announce the date for by-election. The Congress on March 24 questioned Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha, and said that only the President has the powers to do so. Gandhi’s disqualification has put Congress in a tight spot as the party prepares itself for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
But this is the seventh case in which Gandhi is now out on bail. He is also out on bail in the National Herald case. Gandhi along with his mother Sonia Gandhi was granted bail in December 2015 on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 in the case pursued by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. On July 6, 2019, Rahul Gandhi was granted bail by a Patna court in another defamation case. This case was filed by a BJP leader for his comments saying “all Modis are thieves”. On July 12, 2019, Gandhi was granted bail by an Ahmedabad court in a defamation case. The case was filed by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank after he had alleged that the bank was involved in a scam of swapping bank notes during demonetisation.
On July 4, 2019, Rahul was granted bail by a Mumbai court in a defamation case filed by a RSS worker. This case was filed for his remark linking activist Gauri Lankesh’s killing with the “BJP-RSS ideology”. The bail was granted on a surety amount of Rs 15,000. In November 2016, the Bhiwandi court in Maharashtra had granted bail to Gandhi in another case filed by another RSS worker. Rahul Gandhi had said that the RSS had killed Mahatma Gandhi. Even the Supreme Court had slammed him for such ‘collective’ comments, and had ruled that he will have to face trial and prove his point in the court. A Guwahati court gave bail to Gandhi in yet another defamation case filed by the RSS. The bail was granted on a bond of Rs 50,000 in September 2016.
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