Supreme Court Verdict Paves the Way for Rahul Gandhi’s Reinstatement as Lok Sabha MP

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is set to be eligible to return to Parliament soon, following the Supreme Court’s decision to stay his conviction in a criminal defamation case. This ruling clears the way for the revival of his membership in the House. The Lok Sabha Secretariat will need to issue a notice confirming the removal of Gandhi’s suspension after receiving a copy of the court order. The Secretariat had previously restored the membership of Lakshadweep MP Mohammad Faizal after the Kerala high court suspended his conviction in a criminal case.

Gandhi’s return to Parliament is expected just before a two-day debate on a no-confidence motion against the government, scheduled for Tuesday in the Lok Sabha, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s response set for Thursday. However, the motion poses no threat to the government as it commands a majority in the Lower House. The Opposition aims to utilize the debate to address the ongoing violence in Manipur.

The Supreme Court’s decision to stay Gandhi’s conviction was based on the trial judge’s failure to justify why Gandhi deserved the maximum punishment in the case related to his comments on the Modi surname. The court highlighted the importance of proper representation in Parliament for the people of Gandhi’s constituency and pointed out that even a one-day reduction in the jail term would have saved his membership.

The court emphasized the need for the trial court to specify the reasons for imposing the maximum punishment in a case that is classified as bailable, non-cognizable, and compoundable.

The stay on Gandhi’s conviction will remain in effect until the Gujarat sessions court, where his appeal against the conviction order of the Surat trial court is pending, makes a final decision.

In his affidavit, Gandhi expressed his refusal to apologize and settle the criminal defamation case filed against him by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Purnesh Modi over his remarks at a poll rally in 2019. He maintained that his conviction is unsustainable and that he has a strong chance of success in his appeal.

This stay also enables Gandhi to participate in the upcoming national elections scheduled for next year. Gandhi approached the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat high court’s order, which had declined to suspend his conviction and the two-year jail term, stating that his offence involved “moral turpitude” and a breach of modesty.

Gandhi argued that an immediate stay on his conviction is necessary to protect free speech, expression, thought, and statement and prevent the weakening of democratic institutions, which would be detrimental to India’s political climate and future.