This Article is From Mar 28, 2023

"Will Astonish Usain Bolt": P Chidambaram On Rahul Gandhi Disqualification

"When has someone suffered a term of 2 years for slander?" P Chidambaram said

"When has someone suffered a term of 2 years for slander?" P Chidambaram said.

New Delhi:

Congress's former Union Minister and legal luminary P Chidambaram told NDTV today that speed with which Rahul Gandhi's defamation case moved forward in the trial court -- following a year-long break from the petitioner -- and his subsequent disqualification was extremely unusual. "It would surprise even Usain Bolt," he said, citing the Jamaican sprinting legend. He also said it was strange that while Mr Gandhi was sued for defamation in what was really slander, he received the harshest ever sentence in such a case and the magistrate who handed it, suspended it on his own.  

"Why doesn't Mr Piyush Goyal or the government try and explain it," said Mr Chidambaram. "When has someone suffered a term of 2 years for slander? This was an obscure law. It shows that you can set in motion a law and silence a member of the opposition," he added.

A key condition in parliaments disqualification law is that it applies to people who have received a minimum of two year's jail term if the case does not involve national security.  

Mr Chidambaram also said in their appeal to a higher court -- the district court in this case -- the party will question why there was no time lapse between the guilt verdict and the sentence.  

"It was over in 10 minutes," he said, pointing out that sentencing is a separate part of criminal jurisprudence, since many issues have to be factored in. "Precedents, similar cases, enormity of the expression, possible rival interpretation -- nothing was taken into account... We will argue all this is court," he said.   

Mr Gandhi was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison last week in a defamation case from 2019, over his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surname. In the campaign ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Mr Gandhi had said, "How come all thieves have the common surname Modi?"  

The Gujarat court, which sentenced him to two years in jail, also granted him bail and suspended the sentence. On Friday, he was formally disqualified by Lok Sabha.