BJP reacts as Kejriwal backs Rahul Gandhi: ‘AAP has finally…’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

BJP reacts as Kejriwal backs Rahul Gandhi: ‘AAP has finally…’

Mar 23, 2023 03:00 PM IST

The BJP targeted Arvind Kejriwal's AAP for coming out in support of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after he was sentenced to two years in jail in a defamation case.

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday slammed its direct rival in Delhi Aam Aadmi Party after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal came out in support of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after he was sentenced to two years in jail in a defamation case, alleging that a conspiracy was being hatched to “eliminate” non-BJP leaders and parties by prosecuting them.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi(File photo)
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi(File photo)

Alleging that AAP's support for Rahul Gandhi proved that it has no faith in the court, BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla tweeted, “So AAP has finally dropped the purdaah of pretence and has openly embraced Congress - AAP ka haath Congress ke saath !”

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He added, "Their support for Rahul Gandhi proves following

1) They have no faith in court

2) In matters of corruption they stand with Congress - gone are the days of Anna Hazare & IAC

3) They endorse Rahul’s diatribe against Modi samaaj & OBCs & perhaps also his statement demanding foreign intervention into India!"

A Surat court in Gujarat held Gandhi guilty of defamation for his 2019 "Modi surname" remarks. It also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court.

Also Read | Rahul Gandhi case Live Updates

Reacting to the verdict, Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi, “A conspiracy is being hatched to eliminate non-BJP leaders and parties by prosecuting them. We have differences with the Congress, but it is not right to implicate Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case like this. It is the job of the public and the opposition to ask questions. We respect the court but disagree with the decision.”

AAP Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha said opposition forms the core of democracy and dissent should not be stifled.

“Respectfully disagree with court verdict against Rahul Gandhi. Opposition forms the core of democracy. Dissent should not be stifled. India has a strong tradition of critique. Attempt to reduce this to the viewpoint of one ideology, one party, one leader is unconstitutional and undemocratic,” Chadha tweeted.

What next for Rahul Gandhi?

Any elected representative who is sentenced for any offence for a period of two years or more faces immediate disqualification under the Representation of People Act, 1951 (RP Act). One provision of the Act that granted three months’ protection from disqualification was struck down in 2013 as “ultra vires” by the Supreme Court in the Lily Thomas case.

In Gandhi’s case, the Surat court that declared him guilty later suspended his sentence for 30 days on the request of his legal team, to give him an opportunity to challenge the decision.

On the face of it, this may mean that Gandhi’s disqualification will kick in after a month unless he is able to get a stay on the conviction (and not just the sentence) from an appellate court – in this case a sessions court – within that period.

However, a second interpretation may be that disqualification can come into effect immediately since the suspension applies to the sentence, and not the conviction itself. In K Prabhakaran Vs P Jayarajan (2005), a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court held that suspension of sentence would have no bearing on the disqualification prescribed under the RP Act. “What is relevant for the purpose of Section 8(3) is the actual period of imprisonment which any person convicted shall have to undergo or would have undergone consequent upon the sentence of imprisonment pronounced by the court,” it said.

The process for disqualification is that an MP lodges a complaint with the Speaker, along with a copy of the court order. The Speaker then seeks legal advice, and takes a decision based on that.

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    Have 11 years' experience in print and digital media. Write on politics, defence and world affairs, and have a keen eye for human-interest stories.

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