In a big relief for Rahul Gandhi, the Supreme Court has stayed his conviction in a 2019 defamation case. This means that his Lok Sabha membership can be revived. The Lok Sabha speaker can do this on his own or Gandhi can seek restoration of his status as an MP with the apex court order.
The trial court judge did not provide a reason for convicting Gandhi, except for his admonishment in a contempt case. The Supreme Court had closed the contempt proceedings against Gandhi after he apologized for wrongly attributing a remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The top court warned him to be more careful in the future.
The term of the 17th Lok Sabha ends in May 2024. The Supreme Court noted that the maximum sentence for defamation is two years imprisonment or a fine. The trial judge had awarded the maximum sentence of two years.
Referring to a previous contempt case against Gandhi, the apex court stated that he should have been more careful and restrained in making defamatory remarks. The court recognized that Gandhi’s conviction and disqualification not only affected his right to continue in public life but also the rights of the electorate who elected him.
During the hearing, Gandhi’s lawyer argued that his client is not a hardened criminal and has never been convicted despite multiple cases filed against him by BJP workers. On the other hand, Modi’s lawyer claimed that there is ample evidence against Gandhi.
Gandhi expressed gratitude for the support he received and stated that truth always triumphs. He emphasized his commitment to protecting the idea of India.
Overall, the Supreme Court’s stay on Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in the defamation case has provided relief for him and opened the possibility for his Lok Sabha membership to be revived.