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Supreme Court rejects plea against restoring Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha membership

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a plea against restoring Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha membership. The top court also imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on a Lucknow-based advocate, who had sought quashing of the August 7 notification that restored the membership of Rahul Gandhi. 

The Congress leader’s membership was revived following the Supreme Court’s order staying his conviction in a 2019 criminal defamation case relating to Modi surname. A bench of Justice Bhushan R Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta termed the petition as frivolous, mentioning that such petitions did not only waste the precious time of the court but also the entire Supreme Court registry. 

In its order, the Supreme Court bench stated that the court had on October 20 dismissed a similar petition by advocate-petitioner Ashok Pandey while imposing a fine of Rs 1 lakh on him for challenging the restoration of Lok Sabha membership of the Nationalist Congress Party Leader Mohammed Faisal.

In the present petition, Ashok Pandey claimed that the disqualification based on conviction and sentence will continue to operate till it is set aside in appeal. Ashok Pandey urged the top court to decide the issue as to whether the conviction of an accused can be stayed by the court of appeal or any court and whether on the basis of stay of conviction, a person who has suffered disqualification by operation of law, will become qualified to be chosen as or for being, a member of Parliament/ State legislature. Furthermore, he also sought a direction to the Election Commission to notify the vacancy of the seat being held by Rahul Gandhi and holding fresh elections there.

Rahul Gandhi was elected as an MP from Kerala’s Wayanad in 2019. Following his conviction on March 23 by a Surat trial court and the subsequent declaration of his disqualification by the Lok Sabha secretariat, he remained ineligible as an MP for 131 days before the top court’s propitious order. On August 4, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed the Congress leader’s conviction in the defamation case. 

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