Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Saturday said elected representatives automatically stand disqualified the moment they are convicted by a court and sentenced to jail for two or more years, and hit out at Rahul Gandhi for resorting to "gimmicks" for "cheap popularity".
Thakur also made it clear that the Union government or the Lok Sabha has no role to play in the matter and cannot suspend or revoke the disqualification.
His statement came as a combative Gandhi said he would continue to defend democracy in the country even if he is disqualified from Parliament for life or jailed.
Thakur said in the 2013 Lily Thomas Vs Union of India case, the Supreme Court had set aside Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act which once protected convicted legislators from disqualification on account of their pending appeal.
"As per judgment, disqualification is automatically effective from the date of conviction,” he said.
The minister said the Constitution expressly prohibits Parliament to defer the date from which a disqualification would come into effect.
“The Lok Sabha Speaker is bound by the RP Act and SC judgment to issue membership termination order,” Thakur said.
"RG (Rahul Gandhi) is a case of political immaturity, losing whatsoever little trust left, for gimmicks and cheap popularity,” the senior BJP leader said.
Thakur said Gandhi was not the first elected representative to face disqualification.
“Wonder whether legal wizards of Congress have checked the rules? Instead, they are brazenly defending their hatred for OBC which caused his conviction thus showing utter disrespect towards judiciary and people,” the Union minister said.
The BJP has accused the former Congress president of insulting Other Backward Classes (OBCs) with his "Modi surname" remarks in 2019 for which a Surat court convicted him, leading to his disqualification from the Lok Sabha.
-With PTI Input