Gandhi’s remarks have rocked Parliament, with Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha failing to transact any significant business (Image: Reuters)
Explained: BJP has called for Rahul Gandhi’s ouster from Lok Sabha and there are speculations about any possible criminal action against him
Stepping up their attack on Rahul Gandhi for his “democracy under brutal attack” remark in the UK, BJP leaders, including Union ministers, on Thursday demanded an apology from the Congress leader insisting that he was “not above Parliament”.
They have alleged that Gandhi had insulted the country from foreign soil by asserting that the US and European nations were oblivious that a huge chunk of democratic model had come undone in India. Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Kiren Rijiju, Anurag Thakur, Giriraj Singh and Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad accused Gandhi of “lying” about India in London and expressed anger that the Congress leader had not shown any remorse for his actions.
Gandhi’s remarks have rocked Parliament, with Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha failing to transact any significant business on the first four days of the Budget session’s second half.
Nishikant Dubey, a BJP MP, has also called for Rahul Gandhi’s ouster from the Lok Sabha, while there are speculations about any possible criminal action against him, including sedition. Let’s take a look at what the rules say:
Dubey argued before the Privileges Committee that Rahul violated three privileges during his statement on the motion of gratitude to the President’s address. Dubey further accused Gandhi of breaking Rule 352 by making unfounded, slanderous, and unparliamentary claims against Modi without notifying the Speaker, as per a report by the Free Press Journal.
लोकसभा के नियम व प्रक्रिया के तहत राहुल गांधी जी मेरी तरफ़ एक साधारण सांसद हैं । ना तो वे UPA के चेयरपर्सन हैं,ना को वे कॉंग्रेस पार्टी के अध्यक्ष हैं और ना तो वे विपक्ष के नेता या कॉंग्रेस पार्टी के सदन में नेता हैं । pic.twitter.com/1enFCcx9f4— Dr Nishikant Dubey (@nishikant_dubey) March 17, 2023
What is Rule 352 and Dubey’s Arguments Before the Committee?
- According to a report by ABP News, under Rule 352 (2), an MP may make a remark about another legislator only with prior notice and with the Speaker’s permission. Dubey argues that Rahul broke this rule by remarking on Prime Minister Modi.
- Second, Dubey brought up the 1976 event in which Subramanian Swamy was ousted from Rajya Sabha and allegations were made against Parliament and the Prime Minister. The same is true now, according to Dubey: casting doubt on the Prime Minister’s conduct harms democracy.
- Finally, while Dubey said that Rahul Gandhi’s speech had been removed, he discovered that Gandhi’s handles on Twitter and YouTube channels still contained the erased speech and tweets. This, according to the report, jeopardises the Speaker’s authority and discretion.
What Happened With Swamy in 1976?
Subramaniam Swamy was expelled from the Rajya Sabha in 1976 after making disparaging remarks about India in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.
“The Committee considered the reported acitivites of Shri Subramanian Swamy in the United Kingdom, U.S.A. and Canada where it appears he gave interviews on the radio and television….Shri Subramanian Swamy does not deny that he gave interviews especially to the ‘Toronto Star’ and ‘Washington Star’. Moreover, what he says in his letter is also an admission that he gave some interviews and wrote articles in some other journals during his visits abroad…. It would thus appear that Shri Subramanian Swamy had easy access to such mass media including radio and television,” said the Rajya Sabha report.
“In this connection, the Committee cannot but take note of the fact that many of such journals in these countries as well as the TV and the radio were engaged in virulent anti-India propaganda after the proclamation, of emergency in the country. That Shri Subramanian Swamy was feeding their propaganda would be seen from what appeared, for example, in ‘Toronto Star’, Wed., February 11, 1976 under four column beading ‘Mrs. Gandhi could be killed Indian MP in exile says’ along with a photograph of Shri Subramanian Swamy.“
What About Sedition or Treason?
“Rahul lied in London. His utterances there are way beyond just breach of parliamentary privileges. He has insulted the country and given more fodder to the anti-India forces,” law minister Kiren Rijiju has also said.
Section 124 A of the Indian Criminal Code defines sedition in India. The British colonial government enacted Section 124A in 1870 in response to the necessity for a specific section to deal with the radical Wahabi movement of the nineteenth century, led by Syed Ahmed Barelvi and centred in Patna.
Section 124 A States:
“Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”
Sedition laws are found in the following laws in India:
- the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 124 (A))
- the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 95)
- the Seditious Meetings Act, 1911 and
- the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (Section 2 (o) (iii)).
When media asked if a criminal case for treason would be filed against Rahul Gandhi, the law minister said that all options must be spoken about and discussed. Read more on this
With inputs from PTI
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