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Sunday, April 14, 2024

India’s parliament reinstates Rahul Gandhi as lawmaker

Gandhi, whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather were prime minister, was convicted in March in a case brought by a lawmaker from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over 2019 comments deemed insulting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others with the same name, including the lawmaker.

ndia’s parliament on Monday reinstated opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi as a member after the Supreme Court suspended his conviction for defamation, the government said in a notice.

Gandhi, whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather were prime minister, was convicted in March in a case brought by a lawmaker from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over 2019 comments deemed insulting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others with the same name, including the lawmaker.

Read more: Rahul Gandhi asks for his defamation conviction to be suspended

Upon his conviction, Gandhi, 53, lost his parliamentary seat and was jailed for two years but granted bail.

The Supreme Court last week suspended the conviction, allowing Gandhi to return to parliament and contest a general election due next year.

Gandhi has sought to overturn the conviction but his challenge has yet to be heard by a lower court.

Over recent months, Gandhi has helped his Congress party open talks with other opposition parties to push the idea of a grand alliance to take on the BJP in the general election.

Read more: India opposition leader Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at Modi over China in US visit

BJP lawmaker Purnesh Modi filed a defamation case against Mr Gandhi, alleging that the comments had defamed the entire Modi community. Mr Gandhi had argued that he made the comment to highlight corruption and it was not directed against any community.

He was convicted by a court in Gujarat state in March and sentenced to two years in jail. He lost his MP status a day after his conviction – in accordance with a 2013 Supreme Court order which says that a lawmaker convicted in a crime and sentenced to two or more years in jail stands disqualified from parliament with immediate effect.

The court then granted Mr Gandhi bail to appeal against his conviction and in July, the Gujarat high court dismissed his appeal.

But on Friday, the Supreme Court suspended his conviction, saying that the reasons given by the trial court judge for giving the maximum punishment of two years to Mr Gandhi were “without sufficient reasons and grounds”.