Sun, 24 September 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

India court suspends Rahul Gandhi's defamation conviction

Update : 04 Aug 2023, 21:43

The conviction was over comments deemed insulting to Prime Minister Modi. The court order allows the opposition leader to return to parliament and run in next year's elections.

India's Supreme Court suspended on Friday the conviction of the leader of the opposition Congress, Rahul Gandhi, in a defamation case.

The move allows him to return to parliament and compete in the 2024 parliamentary election.

The opposition leader was convicted in March over comments he made in 2019 that were seen as insulting to people surnamed Modi, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The case was brought against him by a Gujarat state lawmaker of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

How did the Congress party react?

Congress party members celebrated the ruling, shouting slogans and distributing sweets at the party headquarters in New Delhi.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the party in the lower house of parliament, said he would write to the speaker of the legislature to reinstate Gandhi.

The opposition figure lost his seat in parliament following his conviction.

"Rahul Gandhi has got relief from the false allegations that were made against him," Chowdhury told reporters. "This is the victory of truth."

What was Gandhi convicted of?

In March, a court found Gandhi guilty of defamation over a speech he gave in 2019, in which he referred to people with the surname Modi — such as the current prime minister — as thieves.

Gandhi appealed at lower courts and the high court in Gujarat, but his appeals were rejected. He then resorted to the country's top court.

"No reason has been given by [the] trial judge for imposing the maximum sentence," Justice B.R. Gavai said. "The order of conviction needs to be stayed pending final adjudication."

Congress party spokesman Ajoy Kumar welcomed the Supreme Court order.

Gandhi is expected to run in next year's election, in which Modi will be seeking his third term in office.

Although Congress dominated politics in post-independence India, the party's number of elected seats in the lower house has fallen to less than 10%, having been thwarted by Modi's BJP in the last two elections.

Gandhi is the scion of India's most famous political dynasty and the great-grandson of the country's first post-independence prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

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