India’s court suspends Gandhi’s sentence for Modi ‘thieves’ remarks

NEW DELHI   -   India’s top court on Fri­day suspended the def­amation conviction of Rahul Gandhi, a deci­sion that could pave the way for the senior op­position politician to return to par­liament after his disqualification.

Gandhi, 53, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in March in a case that critics have said showed threats to the rule of law in the world’s largest democracy. He was turfed out of the legislature as a re­sult but has stayed out of jail while appealing the case up to the Su­preme Court in New Delhi.

A justice there said that the initial trial judge had failed to justify impos­ing the maximum sentence on Gand­hi for his comments, made during a campaign rally four years ago. 

“The order of conviction needs to be stayed pending final adjudication,” Justice B.R. Gavai said in his ruling.

Gandhi is the leading face of the opposition Congress party, once the dominant force of Indian politics. He is also the scion of India’s premier po­litical dynasty and the son, grandson and great-grandson of former prime ministers, beginning with indepen­dence leader Jawaharlal Nehru. 

But Congress has for years been repeatedly crushed in elections by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its nationalist appeals to India’s Hindu majority.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt