Germany reacts to Rahul Gandhi case: ‘Judicial independence and…’
Germany said the government had “taken note of the verdict of first instance” against Rahul Gandhi and the “suspension of his parliamentary mandate”.
Germany said on Wednesday the “standards of judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles” should apply in the case of opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi following his disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP after his conviction in a defamation case.
A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry said the government had “taken note of the verdict of first instance” against Rahul Gandhi and the “suspension of his parliamentary mandate”. This was the first response by Germany or any other European country on the case of Gandhi.
“To our knowledge, Mr Gandhi is in a position to appeal the verdict. It will then become clear whether this verdict will stand and whether the suspension of his mandate has any basis,” the spokesperson told a regular media briefing, speaking in German.
“We expect that the standards of judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles will equally apply to the proceedings against Rahul Gandhi,” the spokesperson said in her remarks, which were beamed on public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
There was no immediate response from Indian officials.
Gandhi, the MP from Wayanad constituency in Kerala, was disqualified after being convicted in a case filed over his remarks about people with the surname Modi. He had made the comments during an election campaign rally in Karnataka in 2019. Gandhi is currently free on bail.
The comments by the German foreign ministry’s spokesperson came close on the heels of US state department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel saying that the US is tracking Gandhi’s case in Indian courts.
Asked at a media briefing whether Gandhi’s expulsion from Parliament was consistent with democratic values, Patel replied: “Respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy and we’re watching Mr Gandhi’s case in Indian courts, and we engage with the government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values, including...freedom of expression.”
Patel further said the US continues to highlight the importance of democratic principles and protection of human rights, including freedom of expression, as a “key to strengthening both our democracies”.