Criminal conviction of Rahul Gandhi and sentencing to imprisonment for two years in defamation case may impact his career as a parliamentarian and his ability to contest elections.
|Section 8 of The Representation of the People Act, 1951 provides for disqualification on conviction
8. Disqualification on conviction for certain offences.
(3) A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years [other than any offence referred to in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2)] shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.]
(4) Notwithstanding anything 8[in sub-section (1), sub-section (2) or sub-section (3)] a disqualification under either sub- section shall not, in the case of a person who on the date of the conviction is a member of Parliament or the Legislature of a State, take effect until three months have elapsed from that date or, if within that period an appeal or application for revision is brought in respect of the conviction or the sentence, until that appeal or application is disposed of by the court.
Because Rahul Gandhi is sentenced to imprisonment for two years, provisions of section 8 of Representation of the People Act, 1951 becomes operational. As per this Act, a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for two years and more is disqualified from the date of conviction and remains disqualified for six years after release.
However, because he is an MP, so three months window period is available to him under this Act to file an appeal.
A disqualification in the case of an MP or MLA becomes operational three months after the date of conviction. If an appeal against conviction is filed within that period, then there is no disqualification till the appeal is decided.
There is no disqualification during the period of appeal. Future scenario based on the outcome of appeal are as follows:
- no disqualification in case of acquittal,
- no disqualification in case sentence of imprisonment is reduced to less than two years (conviction remains in place but quantum of sentence of imprisonment is reduced to less than two years),
- In case conviction and quantum of sentence of imprisonment remains unchanged, then he shall remain disqualified during the period of imprisonment and for further six years after release.
Notwithstanding these legal provisions, this development will have greater bearing on Rahul Gandhi’s public image and people’s perception as a responsible public figure of national importance.