Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has returned to the Lok Sabha after his conviction in a criminal defamation case was stayed by the Supreme Court. The court’s decision comes at a time when the house has been facing repeated disruptions by the opposition group INDIA, demanding a separate session on Manipur following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent comments on the subject.
In the Friday ruling, the Supreme Court acknowledged that Rahul Gandhi’s choice of words was not in good taste but also recognized that his disqualification as a Member of Parliament would have a significant impact on his constituents.
The trial judge had imposed the maximum term of two years in the defamation case, and the Supreme Court noted that a day less would not have resulted in disqualification as an MP.
“The consequences of disqualification affect not only the rights of the individual but also the electorate,” the judges wrote.
Rahul Gandhi had been disqualified in May after being sentenced to two years in prison for his comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname.
During a rally in Karnataka’s Kolar ahead of the 2019 general election, Gandhi questioned, “How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?”
Welcoming the Supreme Court’s decision, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge expressed relief for the people of India, especially those in Wayanad, the constituency represented by Rahul Gandhi.
“It brings relief to the people of India, and especially to Wayanad. Whatever time is left of their tenure, BJP and Modi Govt should utilise that by concentrating on actual governance rather than denigrating Democracy by targeting opposition leaders,” he said.
In response to accusations of delay in Gandhi’s reinstatement, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said, “Speaker took the decision today. We followed the legal process and immediately after receiving the Supreme Court’s order, we restored it.”