From being barred from contesting elections for eight years to losing his official bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha has several possible ramifications.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat on Friday notified Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lower House of Parliament within a day after a court in Surat convicted him in a 2019 criminal defamation case and awarded two years of imprisonment to him.
“Consequent upon his conviction by the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat…Rahul Gandhi, Member of Lok Sabha representing the Wayanad Parliamentary Constituency of Kerala stands disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction i.e. 23 March, 2023," the notification read.
The case filed against the Congress leader was on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi for his alleged remark, “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?" during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Unless a higher court stays Gandhi’s conviction, experts said, he will continue to remain disqualified from the Lok Sabha and also barred from contesting any election for a total of eight years, two years of jail term and another six years from the date of his release from prison, according to Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
As the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala turns vacant following disqualification of Gandhi from the Lower House, the Election Commission can “technically" hold a bypoll to fill the seat as more than one year is left for conducting general elections in 2024.
The term of the present Lok Sabha expires sometime in June.
An expert, who did not wish to be named, felt that the Election Commission is likely to wait for the 30-day period granted by the court to allow Gandhi file an appeal against the conviction.
With his disqualification from the Lok Sabha, Gandhi may also have to vacate his official bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi within a month if he doesn’t get a relief from a higher court, officials said.
The former Congress president has been living in an official bungalow, located on 12, Tughlaq Lane, since it was allotted to him following his victory in 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
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