Uttar Pradesh minister Asim Arun on Saturday said the rule of law applies to everyone whether it is Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, SP's Azam Khan or a BJP politician.
Responding to an allegation by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who has said that the BJP was trying to lodge false cases against opposition leaders and get them disqualified, the social welfare minister said a member of the ruling BJP had to lose his membership of the UP Assembly last year after his conviction.
Vikram Saini, a two-term MLA from Khatauli, was disqualified as a legislator in 2022 after he was sentenced to two years in prison by a court in a case related to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.
"He had a criminal case against him and he got convicted in it. His seat fell vacant and bye-election was held on it," Arun said.
The BJP fielded his wife in the bye-election but the RLD candidate won from there.
"The crucial element here is we all know what Rahul Gandhi said. Do you feel it amounts to defamation? I feel yes, it does. You read the lawbook and according to Section 499 (of the IPC), it is clearly defamation," Arun said.
"Second, the speed of justice. The case was lodged in 2019 and it's almost four years and the speed should be even greater, particularly for MP/MLA courts because they were made to ensure speedy legal proceedings in such cases,” the former IPS officer said during a visit to the National Capital Region.
Whether it is Azam Khan or his son Abdullah, every case has gone through a robust legal process, he said.
“Now Rahul Gandhi or other politicians who have been convicted have legal recourse and I am sure they must have taken that route. Either their conviction may not have got commuted or the sentence stayed because of which they have been disqualified. This is fundamentally about the rule of law, which must apply to everyone including politicians, which is happening,” the minister said.
Gandhi was sentenced to two years in jail after a Surat court convicted him in a 2019 criminal defamation case on Thursday. The next day, the Lok Sabha Secretariat issued a notification disqualifying him as an MP.
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