- Suchitra Mohanty
- for bbc hindi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been sentenced to two years in prison by a Surat court in a four-year criminal libel case.
The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 15,000. Along with this, the punishment has been postponed for 30 days. That means Rahul Gandhi has one month to appeal the sentence in the high court.
The 2019 case relates to a comment by Rahul Gandhi on the ‘Modi surname’ in which he said: “How come all thieves have Modi’s surname?”, taking the names of Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi and others. .
This court decision has created a crisis in Rahul Gandhi’s membership of the Lok Sabha and the reason for this crisis is the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 1951 and the old decisions handed down by the Supreme Court.
Recently, the Samajwadi MLA Azam Khan party in Uttar Pradesh was disqualified from membership after being sentenced to three years in a hate speech case.
Top leaders of the Congress party have also expressed fear of losing membership. If this happens, it will be a big problem not only for Rahul Gandhi but also for the Congress party, because Rahul Gandhi has been constantly attacking the Narendra Modi government in the Center regarding the Adani dispute in Parliament.
Why Rahul can go? gandhi membership of?
According to Sections 102(1) and 191(1), if a Member of Parliament or Legislative Assembly is in lucrative office, is insane, insolvent or not a legal Indian citizen, then his or her membership is cancelled. membership.
The second rule of disqualification is in the Tenth Annex of the Constitution. It has provisions for the disqualification of members on the basis of desertion.
Apart from this, under the Representation of the People Act 1951, the membership of an MP or MLA can be lost.
Through this law, there is a provision to cancel the membership of an MP or MLA who has been sanctioned in criminal cases.
What does the Law of Representation of the People of 1951 say?
According to Section 8(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1951, membership can be forfeited for promoting enmity between two groups, accepting bribes, or abusing their influence in the election.
The membership of Azam Khan, an MLA from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, was terminated in October 2022, as the court sentenced him to three years in the hate speech case. Due to the hate speech, this case falls under Section 8(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1951.
However, defamation does not enter into this.
Under Section 8(2), membership will be terminated if found guilty of hoarding, profiteering, adulteration of food and drink or under the Dowry Prohibition Act and sentenced to a minimum of six months.
Under Section 8(3), if a person is convicted and sentenced to two years or more, they will no longer be eligible for membership in the Chamber. The final decision will be made by the President of the Chamber.
According to the provision, that MP or MLA would be disqualified from the date of his conviction and would remain disqualified for six years after his release. This means that if this provision is imposed on Rahul Gandhi, he will be banned for two years and then barred from running for six years.
court decisions that may be conclusive
Lily Thomas v. Union of India (2013)
In this case, the Supreme Court of India had said in its decision that if an MP or MLA is convicted in a case and is sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, then their membership will be terminated.
According to Legal Services India, the court had also said in this case that a convicted MP is barred from running for election or serving as a member of the legislature while the appeal is pending.
Manoj Narula c. Union of India (2014)
According to Legal Services India, the Delhi High Court had said in this case that a person cannot be disqualified from running in the elections simply because they have been charged with a criminal offence.
However, the court also said that political parties should not field candidates with criminal records.
How to save membership?
Legal experts say that to avoid disbarment, Rahul Gandhi will have to go to the High Court and get a suspended sentence order.
Speaking to the Reuters news agency, High Court lawyer Vikram Hegde said that to save his membership, Rahul Gandhi will have to obtain a stay of the high court’s sentence.
On the other hand, the Congress party says it will appeal the Surat court’s decision in the high court.
The ordinance that could have saved Rahul’s membership
In September 2013, Rahul Gandhi described as absurd an ordinance that could have saved him from the crisis that is weighing on his membership today.
At the time, the UPA government had introduced an ordinance saying that under certain conditions MPs and MLAs would not be disqualified even after being found guilty in court.
At that time Rahul Gandhi was the Vice President of the Congress Party. He later called the UPA government’s ordinance on ‘tainted MPs and MLAs’ ‘absurd’ and said it should be torn up and scrapped.
Giving the statement, Rahul Gandhi said, “If the people in this country really want to fight corruption, then we cannot make such small compromises.”
Rahul Gandhi used to say, “When we make a small deal, we start making all kinds of deals.”
Sticking to his point, Rahul Gandhi said: “The argument being made in my organization for this ordinance is ‘we need to do this because there is a political consensus on it’. The time has come to stop this absurd act.”
Who lost the membership?
Mohammad Faizal, a Lakshadweep MP recently had to lose his membership on January 11, 2023. A court in union territory had sentenced him to ten years in prison for attempted murder.
Rasheed Masood (Congress) was convicted of MBBS seating scam in 2013 and lost his Rajya Sabha membership.
Lalu Prasad Yadav was also convicted of the fodder scam in the year 2013 and his Lok Sabha membership was terminated as well. At that time he was an MP for Saran in Bihar.
Jagdish Sharma of Janata Dal United was also convicted in the fodder scam case and in 2013 he had to resign from Lok Sabha membership as well. At that time he was an MP from Bihar’s Jehanabad.
Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan had to lose his membership in the Legislative Assembly after being convicted. A Rampur court convicted him of a hate speech case in 2019 and sentenced him to three years in prison.
The membership in the assembly of the son of PS leader Azam Khan, Abdullah Azam, was also cancelled. While contesting the election, he gave a false affidavit indicating his age.
Vikram Saini, who was a BJP MLA in Uttar Pradesh, was also disqualified. He was sentenced to two years in the 2013 riot case.
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