The Congress on Friday said that it will take legal recourse in the matter of party leader Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from the Lok Sabha but noted this takes time and it is not surprised the way things have moved fast in this particular case.
Addressing a press conference, party leader and senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, citing the Lok Prahari case, said that there is no automatic disqualification as Article 103 of the Constitution states that only the President has to power to disqualify after taking advice of the Election Commission.
Gandhi, who is MP from Kerala's Wayanad, will be moving the sessions court and the higher courts soon, he said, adding that the EC announces a by-election then it can be stayed by court as the case of Lakshwadeep.
However, Singhvi said that he has doubts if Gandhi's membership will be restored if the sentence is stayed because things have moved with a lightening speed in the case.
Citing the chronology of the case, he says that Gandhi spoke on February 7 and after 9 days on February 16, the complainant got vacated his own stay from the High Court and on February 27, the final hearing begans and on March 17, the judgement was reserved.
Congress MP Manish Tewari too said that under the Constitution, only the President has the power to disqualify an MP.
"Under COI powers to disqualify an MP lie with the President -Article 103 if disqualification is incurred under Article 102 (1) (e). In Re Lok Prahari VS ECI (2018) 18 SCC 114 SC records EC's contentions qua Lily Thomas but records no finding that disqualification is automatic", he tweeted.
Former Union Minister P. Chidambaram, in a tweet, said: "Judgement on 23 March, disqualification on 24 March.
"The speed with which the system moved is astonishing, No time is spent on reflection, understanding or allowing time for legal review, Obviously, there are no voices of moderation in the BJP party or government, The net result is parliamentary democracy has suffered another cruel blow."
The Lok Sabha Secretariat, in its notification signed by Secretary General, Lok Sabha, and issued on Friday, said, "Consequent upon his conviction by the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat..., Rahul Gandhi, Lok Sabha MP representing Wayanad Parliamentary constituency of Kerala, stands disqualified from the membership of the lower house from the date of his conviction..."
A district court in Gujarat's Surat on Thursday convicted Gandhi in a criminal defamation case against him over his alleged 'Modi surname' remark in 2019.