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Rahul Gandhi’s Conviction [UPSC Current Affairs]

In March 2023, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha, following his conviction in a defamation case by a Surat court. In this article, you can learn all about this latest development, from the perspective of the IAS exam. This is an important topic for the Indian polity section of the UPSC syllabus

Rahul Gandhi Defamation Case Background

Rahul Gandhi had made a remark about the “Modi” surname during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections saying “Why do all thieves, be it Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi, have Modi in their names?”

  • He was held guilty and sentenced to two years in jail by a Surat court in a 2019 defamation case, over his remarks.
  • The conviction triggered the disqualification process for him as a lawmaker.

What was the verdict?

  • Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Verma convicted him and sentenced him to two years in prison.
  • The judges used Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which prescribes for defamation a simple imprisonment for a “term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
  • The court also allowed his bail on a surety of Rs 15,000 and suspended the sentence for 30 days for further appeal.

Why was Rahul Gandhi disqualified?

There are three disqualification criteria:

  • Using Articles 102(1) and 191(1) – The grounds here are holding an office of profit, being of unsound mind or insolvent or not having valid citizenship.
  • Using the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution – disqualification of the members on grounds of defection.
  • The Representation of The People Act (RPA), 1951 provides for disqualification for conviction in criminal cases.

What does the Representation of The People Act say?

  • Section 8(3) of the RPA states: “A person convicted of any offense and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.”
  • This section has been applied to the current case based on other factors.

Read more on the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in the linked article.

How does the disqualification operate?

  • The disqualification can be reversed if a higher court allows a stay on the conviction or decides the appeal in favour of the lawmaker.
  • In a 2018 case in ‘Lok Prahari v Union of India’, the Supreme Court ruled that the disqualification “will not operate from the date of the stay of conviction by the appellate court.”

What is the remedy available to the lawmaker?

  • Section 8(4) of the RPA states that the disqualification takes effect only “after three months have elapsed” from the date of conviction. 
  • Within that period, lawmakers could file an appeal against the sentence before the High Court.

Way forward

While the political score setting is always at play in party politics and representative democracies, the underlying currents need to be understood. The lawmakers at times do sway and get carried away during election heats and make derogatory remarks against others which should be avoided as far as possible.

Rahul Gandhi’s Conviction:- Download PDF Here

Related Links
Higher and Technical Education in India Institute of National Importance
Australia’s Deakin University Campus in India National Education Policy (NEP 2020)
UPSC Calendar 2023 UPSC Eligibility Criteria


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