The United States is watching the court case of Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, an official has said while observing that Washington continues to engage with India on the shared commitment towards democratic principles and the protection of human rights, including freedom of expression.
Gandhi was on March 23 sentenced to two years in jail by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his "why all thieves have Modi surname" remark. A day later, he was disqualified from the Lok Sabha from the date of his conviction in the case.
"Respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy. We are watching Mr. Gandhi's case in Indian courts and we engage with the Government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values, including, freedom of expression," the State Department's Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters at a news conference on Monday.
"In our engagements with our Indian partners, we continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles and the protection of human rights, including freedom of expression, as a key to strengthening both our democracies," he said.
Responding to a question, Patel said it is normal for the United States to engage with members of opposition parties in any country where it has bilateral relationships.
Opposition parties in India stepped up their offensive against the Narendra Modi government and observed a "black day for democracy" on Monday, three days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha.
The BJP condemned the ruckus created by the Opposition in Parliament and accused the Congress of resorting to "low-level politics" in its bid to justify Gandhi's remarks against the OBC community.