- Rahul will now approach the Supreme Court for relief.
- The court ruled that the conviction was “just, proper and legal”.
- Gandhi is only the second person to be disqualified from Parliament in India.
New Delhi: Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi will remain disqualified as an MLA after the Gujarat High Court rejected his plea to stay his conviction in a 2019 defamation case.
The court ruled that the sentence was “just, fair and legal”, dealing a blow to the Congress leader, ending his hopes of returning to parliament and contesting next year’s national election for the time being.
Rahul will now approach the Supreme Court for relief – this is his last option.
Gandhi was indicted in March in a case brought by Purnesh Modi, a legislator from Gujarat state of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after his comments made in 2019 were deemed derogatory to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others with the Modi surname. Was considered.
Gandhi asked in an election campaign speech, referring to two fugitive businessmen, both of whom had the surname Modi, “How are all thieves named Modi?”
Gandhi, a scion of the dynasty that gave India three prime ministers, was sentenced to two years in prison, but the prison term was suspended and he was granted bail.
Following the conviction, Gandhi also lost his parliamentary seat as MLAs sentenced to two years or more in prison are automatically disqualified.
He has also been debarred from contesting elections for six years after the completion of his two-year jail term.
Gandhi has separately challenged the conviction in a district court, which is yet to hear the case.
Gujarat High Court Justice Hemant Prachchak in his order on Friday said stay on conviction is not a rule but exemption should be resorted to in rare cases.
“Refusing conviction will not cause injustice to the applicant in any manner,” the judge said.
“Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, there is no reasonable ground for staying the sentence of the applicant.”
There was no immediate reaction from Gandhi on the verdict.
Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh said the verdict would be studied. “This judgment doubles our resolve to pursue the case,” Ramesh tweeted.
During the hearing of the case, Gandhi’s lawyer Abhishek Singhvi had argued that the offense for which Gandhi was convicted was not “serious” and that not being allowed to contest elections for eight years was “almost a semi-permanent in politics”. Is.
Gandhi was only the second legislator in India to be disqualified from Parliament after being convicted. The second case was in January this year, but later the MLA was reinstated.
Gandhi’s disqualification prompted India’s main opposition parties to set aside their differences and join hands to plan a united challenge to the BJP in the 2024 national elections.
– Additional input from Reuters