BJP wants to make India “Banana Republic”: Mehbooba Mufti on Surat court order on Rahul Gandhi

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Anantnag: After the Surat court rejected Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s plea seeking a stay on his conviction in the 2019 criminal defamation case, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (JKPDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleging that the ruling party at Centre wants to make India a “Banana Republic”.
“Today is the black day in the democracy of India as the main Opposition leader is being treated like this. BJP wants to make India a Banana Republic,” said Mufti said. A Surat court on Thursday rejected Rahul Gandhi’s plea seeking a stay on his conviction in the 2019 criminal defamation case on the ‘Modi surname’ remark.
Former Wayanad MP will now have to appeal in Gujarat High Court or Supreme Court against the Surat court’s order.
Additional sessions judge Robin P Mogera cited Gandhi’s stature as an MP and former chief of the country’s second-largest political party and said he should have been more careful. He cited prima facie evidence and observations of the trial court and said it transpires that Gandhi made certain derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi apart from comparing the people with the same surname with thieves.
Mogera said the surname of the complainant in the case, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Purnesh Modi, is also Modi. “…the complainant is [also an] ex-minister and involved in public life and such defamatory remarks would have certainly harmed his reputation and caused him pain and agony in society,” he said.
Mogera cited the disqualification criteria under the Representation of the People Act and added that removal or disqualification as MP could not be termed irreversible or irreparable loss or damage to Gandhi.
Any elected representative sentenced for any offence for two years or more faces immediate disqualification under the Representation of People Act. The Supreme Court struck down in 2013 one provision of the Act that granted three-month protection from disqualification as “ultra vires”.
Earlier on April 3, the Surat Sessions Court granted bail to the Congress leader, who had filed an appeal following his conviction in the case.
While granting bail to the former MP, the court also issued notices to complainant Purnesh Modi and the state government on the Congress leader’s plea for a stay on his conviction. It heard both parties and then reserved the order for April 20.
Rahul Gandhi was a Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad but was disqualified after a lower court in Surat sentenced him to two years in jail on March 23 under sections 499 and 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in a case filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Purnesh Modi.
The case pertained to a remark Rahul Gandhi made using the surname ‘Modi’ while addressing a campaign event ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
At a rally in Karnataka’s Kolar in April 2019, Rahul, in a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said, “How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?”.
Following his conviction, Rahul was disqualified as an MP on March 24, as per a Supreme Court ruling in 2013. Under the ruling, any MP or MLA is automatically disqualified if convicted and sentenced to two years or more. (ANI)

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