Rahul Gandhi, in a huge setback for his Congress party, was today sentenced to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his “why all thieves have Modi surname” remarks.
The 52-year-old leader was granted bail and the court suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court.
As per the Representation of the People Act, a person sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more shall be disqualified “from the date of such conviction” and remain disqualified for another six years after serving time.
Here’s what the Surat court said while convicting the Congress leader:
* “Although the accused was warned and advised by the supreme court, there is no evidence of any change in his conduct.”
* “The accused is an MP who addresses the people in the capacity of an MP and impacts a large part of society, therefore the effect of this crime is much comprehensive in this case.”
* “If the accused is given lesser punishment, it will send a wrong message to the public and the purpose of defamation (law) is not fulfilled and slandering will become easy.”
The complaint against the Congress leader was filed by BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi.
Rahul Gandhi had made the alleged remarks about Modi’s surname at a rally in Karnataka’s Kolar, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
In his first reaction to the Surat court’s verdict, Mr Gandhi quoted Mahatma Gandhi in a tweet in Hindi about truth and non-violence.
“My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, non-violence the means to get it. — Mahatma Gandhi,” the Congress leader tweeted.
A sentence of two years also invites Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as a Member of parliament under Representation of the People Act, 1951, which holds that a member of Parliament or Legislative Assembly convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment of not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of conviction