The Indian parliament has disqualified opposition leader Rahul Gandhi following his conviction in a defamation case ensuing two years of imprisonment.
A notice issued by the parliament on Friday read, “Rahul Gandhi… stands disqualified from the member of Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction.”
The conviction was the result of a speech Gandhi delivered before 2019 general elections in which he referred to thieves as having the surname Modi.
Congress officials said Rahul Gandhi would move to higher court against the parliament’s decision.
The opposition party also staged protests in different parts of the country against the conviction and jail sentence.
Congress officials have termed the court order as ‘politically motivated’ and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of zeroing in on political opponents.
According to The Representation of the People Act, 1951, any politician found “convicted of any offense and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years” shall stand disqualified.
It also bars a convicted lawmaker from contending in elections for six years after completion of jail sentence.
The conviction may also block Rahul Gandhi from contesting in general elections due in 2024. He would only be able to do so until a court nullifies his conviction before the polls.