In a first, the German Foreign Ministry has reacted to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Parliament, saying the latter is in a position to appeal and only then it will “become clear whether this verdict will stand and whether the suspension of his mandate has any basis”.
The remarks were made by a Ministry spokesperson at a press briefing on Wednesday.
“We have taken note of the verdict of first instance against the Indian opposition politician Rahul Gandhi as well as the suspension of his parliamentary mandate.
“To our knowledge, Gandhi is in a position to appeal the verdict. It will then become clear whether this verdict will stand and whether the suspension of his mandate has any basis.
“We expect that the standards of the judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles will equally apply to the proceedings against Rahul Gandhi,” the spokesperson added.
Quickly responding to the remarks, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh in a tweet thanked the German Foreign Affairs Ministry “for taking note of how the democracy is being compromised in India through persecution of Rahul Gandhi”.
But in a counter-attack, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju slammed the remarks saying that “Indian judiciary can’t be influenced by foreign interference”.
Also taking to Twitter, he said: “Thank you Rahul Gandhi for inviting foreign powers for interference into India’s internal matters. Remember, Indian judiciary can’t be influenced by foreign interference. India won’t tolerate ‘foreign influence’ anymore because our Prime Minister is Narendra Modi.”
The German Foreign Ministry’s reaction comes few days after a US Department of State spokesperson had said that Washington is watching Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s case.
During a press briefing on Monday when asked if the Congress leader’s disqualification was consistent with democratic values, the Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said: “Respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy, and we’re watching Mr. Gandhi’s case in Indian courts, and we engage with the government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values — including, of course, freedom of expression.
“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.”
On March 24, Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as member of the Lok Sabha, a day after his conviction in the 2019 ‘Modi surname’ defamation case.
The Gandhi scion, who represented the Wayanad parliamentary constituency of Kerala, was disqualified under provisions of Article 102 (1) (e) of the Constitution of India read with Section 8 of Representation of the People’s Act.
He was on March 23 sentenced to two years in jail by a Surat court in the case filed on a complaint by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi.