The INDIA alliance received a much-needed boost as the Supreme Court granted relief to Rahul Gandhi, the prominent Congress leader, in a criminal defamation case. The case was related to an alleged ‘Modi’ surname remark made by Mr. Gandhi during a political rally back in 2019. The court’s stay order now opens the doors for his return to Parliament, enabling his active participation in the ongoing monsoon session, contingent upon the restoration of his membership by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
A three-judge bench, led by Justice BR Gavai and comprising Justices PS Narasimha and Sanjay Kumar, brought to light a crucial point in the Gujarat trial judge’s earlier ruling. They pointed out the failure of the trial judge to provide any compelling reason for imposing the maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment on Mr Gandhi. This move came under scrutiny, as the penal code allows for the option of imposing a fine or both, alongside the choice of imprisonment.
Furthermore, the top court underscored that Mr Gandhi’s disqualification as an MP for eight years, according to Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, was solely based on the two-year sentence. Justice Gavai emphasized the need for judges to justify the imposition of the maximum sentence, particularly in cases of non-cognizable, bailable, and compoundable offenses.
Twitter was abuzz with reactions from prominent leaders of the Opposition alliance, hailing the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the conviction of Rahul Gandhi. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin was one of the first to express his support, affirming his belief in the judiciary.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee also lauded the SC’s decision, seeing it as a unifying force that would strengthen the resolve of the INDIA alliance in their fight for the country.
Former Jammu and Kashmir CM and National Conference leader, Omar Abdullah, took to Twitter to congratulate the people of Wayanad for regaining their representation in the Lok Sabha. Rahul Gandhi, the MP from Wayanad, had won the seat during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav joined the chorus of celebration, posting “Satyamev Jayate” on Twitter along with the hashtag INDIA, referring to the recently formed alliance of opposition parties. He praised the Supreme Court’s judgment as commendable, emphasizing that it thwarted a potential conspiracy by the BJP’s network to target many other opposition leaders in the legislature.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Delhi High Court took a significant step by issuing notices to the Centre, the Election Commission of India (ECI), and 26 political parties in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) concerning the usage of the acronym I.N.D.I.A (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) by the opposition alliance.
The PIL seeks to restrain the use of the acronym by the political parties involved and demands action from both the Centre and ECI for its usage. The matter is scheduled for a hearing on 31st October, and it has captured public attention due to its potential implications for the upcoming general elections.
The petitioner, Girish Bharadwaj, contends that the usage of the name INDIA by the opposition alliance has created confusion and misrepresented the election as a conflict between political parties and the nation itself.