New Delhi: On Thursday, a district court in Surat, Gujarat convicted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a criminal defamation case. Gandhi was charged for his alleged “Modi surname” remark made in 2019, and the verdict raised concerns about his status as a Member of Parliament from Wayanad in Kerala.
Although Gandhi has been convicted under Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC, legal experts suggest that he will not face immediate disqualification. This is because the court has given him the opportunity to file an appeal and challenge the sentence. The maximum punishment for these sections is two years, and the court granted Gandhi bail while suspending the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court.
According to senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, Gandhi will have to file an appeal to suspend the sentence, and there is no immediate disqualification. Even the Lok Sabha would wait, and Gandhi can file an appeal to challenge the sentence in the case.
Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951, states that a disqualification under either sub-section shall not take effect until three months have elapsed from the date of the conviction or until the appeal or application for revision is disposed of by the court, whichever is later.
Senior advocate Ranji Thomas also emphasized that Gandhi can file an appeal against the sentence in the higher court and there is no immediate disqualification. The law provides a breather for Gandhi to challenge the sentence in the case.
Legal experts suggest that Gandhi would challenge the CJM court order in the sessions court, and if he is unable to get relief there, he can move the high court. The chances of disqualification proceedings being initiated against him while filing the appeal against the trial court order in higher courts are very slim.