Expect judicial independence, says Germany on Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification
The German foreign ministry said that an appeal filed by the Congress leader against his conviction in the defamation case would show if the verdict stands.
On Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Parliament, Germany on Thursday said that it has taken note of the case and “expects that the standards of judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles will apply”, reported the country’s public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
“We have taken note of the verdict of the first instance against the Indian Opposition politician Rahul Gandhi as well as the suspension of his parliamentary mandate,” a German foreign ministry spokesperson said at a press briefing. “To our knowledge, Rahul Gandhi is in a position to appeal the verdict. An appeal will show whether the verdict stands and whether suspension has a basis.”
On March 23, a Gujarat court had sentenced Gandhi to two years imprisonment in a criminal defamation case. He was found guilty in a case related to his speech ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in which he referred to thieves as having the surname Modi.
The court had granted bail to the Congress and suspended his sentence for 30 days in order to allow him to appeal against the verdict.
A day later, Gandhi was disqualified as a member of Parliament. Under the Representation of the People Act of 1951, a legislator sentenced to jail for two years or more stands to be disqualified from the date of conviction until six years after serving time.
Gandhi’s Lok Sabha membership will be reinstated if his conviction is stayed by a higher court.
Germany’s response comes three days after the United States had said that the rule of law and judicial independence are the cornerstone of democracy, when asked about Gandhi’s disqualification.
“We are watching Mr Gandhi’s case in Indian courts and we engage with the government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values, including, freedom of expression,” Department of State deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel had told reporters at a news conference.
Has Rahul Gandhi really defamed all Modis in India? No, say legal experts