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No Foreign Diplomat Raised Issue Of Rahul Gandhi's Disqualification: Jaishankar

The external affairs minister said Gandhi had an opportunity to rectify the situation by expressing regret, but chose not to do so. 

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar
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 External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said no foreign diplomat has raised with him the issue of Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from the Lok Sabha, which was an outcome of a law "supported" by the Congress leader in the past.

Speaking at the Rising India Summit of Network18, Jaishankar said Gandhi's disqualification as member of Lok Sabha happened as he refused to express regret about the disparaging remarks he made against a community at a public meeting four years ago.

"The law is the law, unless somebody thinks that the law is not for them," Jaishankar said. The minister replied in the negative to a question whether any of his diplomatic counterparts had raised the issue with him.    

"Four years ago Rahul Gandhi was disparaging of a community in a public meeting. It is on public record. A member of that community took offense and began legal proceedings," Jaishankar said, on how he would explain the issue to his counterparts abroad.

The external affairs minister said Gandhi had an opportunity to rectify the situation by expressing regret, but chose not to do so. 

"The legal process produced an outcome. The outcome triggered a law, which Rahul Gandhi had himself supported some years ago," he said referring to the verdict of a Gujarat court sentencing the Congress leader to a two-year jail term in a defamation case.

Jaishankar said the law has been applied to 10-12 elected representatives, including of the ruling party. 

As per Section 8(3) of the Representation of the Peoples Act, a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years, shall be disqualified.

The disqualification, as per the Act, shall begin on the date of the conviction and continue for a period of six years after his release.

In Gandhi's case, unless the conviction is stayed by an appellate court, his disqualification will continue for a total of eight years – two years of imprisonment plus six post-release.

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