Indian court announced verdict in Rahul Gandhi plea seeking stay in his conviction in defamation case
DELHI – A court in Indian state of Gujarat on Thursday turned down a plea filed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi seeking a stay on his conviction in a defamation case, triggering uncertainty over his participation in general elections due next year.
Last month, the 52-year-old leader was sentenced to two years in prison for allegedly passing offensive remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname at an rally.
A day after the conviction, the Indian parliament disqualified Rahul Gandhi. A notice issued by the parliament on March 24 read, “Rahul Gandhi… stands disqualified from the member of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction.”
A Congress leader, Naishadh Desai, told media that the Surat district court has rejected a stay on Rahul Gandhi’s conviction.
“We are going to challenge the decision in Gujarat High Court tomorrow. We have full faith that the judiciary will uphold justice and save the democracy,” Indian media quoted him as saying.
The ruling is being termed a setback for Gandhi, whose jail sentence will remain suspended until he approaches all relevant forums against the conviction.
As per The Representation of the People Act, 1951, any politician found “convicted of any offense and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years” shall stand disqualified. It also bars a convicted lawmaker from contending in elections for six years after completion of jail sentence.
The conviction may also block Rahul Gandhi from contesting in general elections due in 2024. He would only be able to do so until a court nullifies his conviction before the polls