In the middle of a huge political row over Rahul Gandhi's disqualification after a Gujarat court sentenced him to two years in jail, the Lok Sabha membership of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal was restored today after his conviction in a criminal case was put on hold.
Rahul Gandhi's petition challenging his conviction by a court in Gujarat's Surat may be filed today or tomorrow in a sessions court, sources said. He has 30 days to file his appeal.
Though it was widely anticipated, the Election Commission did not announce poll dates today for Wayanad, the constituency that falls vacant after Rahul Gandhi's disqualification. The Congress said it would have challenged the poll body if it had announced elections before Rahul Gandhi's appeal and a decision on it.
Mohammed Faizal, an MP of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Sharad Pawar, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a case of attempt to murder. He was automatically disqualified from parliament after his conviction.
The sentence was stayed by the Kerala High Court in January.
Mr Faisal challenged the Lok Sabha secretariat's "unlawful action" in not withdrawing his disqualification as an MP, more than two months after his sentence was put on hold.
Mr Faisal claims that a false case was registered against him in 2016 over allegations of an attempt to murder a relative of former Union Minister PM Sayeed during the 2009 elections.
The NCP leader was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019, in the middle of his trial. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison along with three others on January 11. Two days later, the Lok Sabha Secretariat sent him a disqualification notice.
On January 18, the Election Commission announced polls to Mr Faisal's Lakshadweep seat on January 27. Two days before the polls, the Kerala High Court suspended Mr Faisal's sentence, forcing the Election Commission to withhold the byelection.
On January 30, Sharad Pawar met with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, to request him to revoke his party leader's disqualification.
Met with Lok sabha speaker Shri. @ombirlakota and requested him to revoke the disqualification of Nationalist Congress Party's MP Shri. @faizalpp786 . pic.twitter.com/JGeQgIpJmo— Sharad Pawar (@PawarSpeaks) January 30, 2023
The Representation of the People Act, 1951, says that anyone convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more stands disqualified.
The rule was invoked when Rahul Gandhi was held guilty by the Surat court in a defamation case linked to his "Modi surname" comments.