Congress's Rahul Gandhi, who was convicted for two years in a defamation case involving his remarks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stands automatically disqualified from parliament under a Supreme Court judgment of 2013, noted lawyer and BJP MP Mahesh Jethmalani told NDTV today.
"By the operation of the law, he stands disqualified but the decision has to be communicated to the Speaker. But as of today, he stands disqualified," Mr Jethmalani told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
In the Lily Thomas versus Union of India case, the Supreme Court had ruled that "any MP, MLA or MLC who is convicted of a crime and given a minimum of 2 years' jail loses membership of the House with immediate effect".
The court had scrapped the Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, which allowed elected representatives three months to appeal against their conviction, calling it "unconstitutional".
An Ordinance against the judgment was brought in by the Manmohan Singh government, which was in power at the time. But Mr Gandhi had trashed it, telling the media that it should be "torn up and thrown away". Critics had portrayed it as a move to protect Congress ally Lalu Yadav, who was being tried in the fodder scam.
"I personally think what the government is doing on the ordinance is wrong. It was a political decision, every party does it, and there is a time to stop this nonsense... If we actually want to stop corruption then we cannot make these compromises," Mr Gandhi had said in what was seen as a huge embarrassment for then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had cleared the Ordinance.
Mr Jehthmalani said Mr Gandhi can only stay in parliament only if a higher court puts a freeze on the trial court judgment, as happened in a few earlier cases.
The BJP has been demanding the disqualification of Mr Gandhi since early this year -- initially over his comments on the Hindenburg-Adani issue. Later they demanded that he be ousted over his comments at the Cambridge University, which the party contended were anti-national.