Rahul Gandhi, a Congress member, might be prohibited from running in elections for eight years if higher courts do not overturn the Surat court’s judgement. After receiving a two-year sentence from the Surat court in connection with the Modi “surname” remark controversy, former Union minister Kapil Sibal stated that Rahul Gandhi is no longer eligible to serve as a member of parliament.
The Lok Sabha secretariat has the power to remove an individual from office after a two-year conviction. In the event that the conviction stands, Rahul Gandhi will also be prohibited from running for office for eight years. According per the Representation of People Act, 1951, a person guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years, shall be disqualified and will remain so for a period of the next six years. It means that apart from his jail term, Rahul Gandhi will not be able to contest polls for subsequent six more years.
“A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years [other than any offence referred to in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2)] shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release,” the Act says. In response to the verdict, Sibal stated that Rahul Gandhi will only remain an MP if the conviction is overturned. “If it (the court) only suspends the sentence that’s not enough. There has to be a suspension or stay of conviction. He (Rahul Gandhi) can stay on as a member of parliament only if there is a stay on the conviction,” former Congress MP Kapil Sibal told NDTV.
Mainly, the Supreme Court ruled in the Lily Thomas v. Union of India case in 2013 that “any MP, MLA, or MLC who is convicted of a crime and given a minimum of 2 years’ jail loses membership in the House with immediate effect.” The Representation of the People Act’s Section 8(4), which gave elected officials three months to appeal their conviction, was repealed by the Supreme Court because it was deemed to be “unconstitutional.” It should be noted that Rahul Gandhi has been given 30 days by the court to appeal his punishment. Lawyer and BJP MP Mahesh Jethmalani told NDTV, “By the operation of the law, he stands disqualified, but the decision has to be communicated to the Speaker. But as of today, he stands disqualified”.
Famous attorney Kapil Sibal described the court’s decision as “bizarre.” He told NDTV, “For a statement made in respect of certain individuals, for him to be convicted for two years — it is totally bizarre.” Interestingly, a Surat court on Thursday found Congress MP Rahul Gandhi guilty of defamation for making a joke about the “Modi surname” during the campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The court gave him a two-year prison term.