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HomeFact CheckDid Rahul Gandhi Tear The UPA Ordinance Seeking To Strike Down 2013...

Did Rahul Gandhi Tear The UPA Ordinance Seeking To Strike Down 2013 SC Judgment On Convicted Legislators?

Authors

Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

Claim
Rahul Gandhi physically tore up an ordinance that sought to negate a 2013 Supreme Court judgment directing immediate disqualification of convicted legislators punished with at least two years in prison.


Fact
Photograph of Gandhi tearing up a paper in a 2012 election rally shared in a false context.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Parliament over conviction in a defamation case has stirred a political storm in the country. The “Dis’ Qualified MP” has brought back the attention to the 2013 Supreme Court judgment that enabled immediate disqualification of any legislator on being convicted with imprisonment of at least 2 years.

In this backdrop, an old photograph of Rahul Gandhi tearing up a piece of paper on a stage is going viral on social media platforms. Those who shared the picture claimed that “karma” has hit back at the Congress leader who had protested against an ordinance to negate the apex court’s verdict on the convicted lawmakers.

Such posts can be seen here, here, here and here.

BJP leaders Piyush Goyal and Giriraj Singh also alleged that Gandhi had torn up the ordinance. In a recent press conference, Goyal questioned the Congress protest against Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification and said, “Was this demonstration against the court which pronounced the conviction, or against the Supreme Court…or against Rahul Gandhi himself who had torn the Ordinance that would have given relief to legislators after the SC judgement.”

While Singh claimed, “Rahul Gandhi is cursed by Lalu Prasad Yadav. When the order came in the fodder scam and Lalu Prasad’s membership was about to go… Rahul Gandhi then tore the ordinance regarding the provision of appeal in such a case…”

But did Gandhi denounce such an ordinance? Did he tear up the ordinance in wide public view? Newschecker attempted to find answers to these questions. 

Also Read: Did Rahul Gandhi Meet Producer Of BBC’s PM Modi Documentary In UK Last Year? Here’s The Truth Behind Viral Image

What Is The 2013 Supreme Court Judgment That Made Gandhi A ‘Dis’ Qualified MP?’

Last week, a Surat Court found Rahul Gandhi guilty in a 2019 “Modi surname” defamation case, and handed down 2-year-imprisonment. The Congress leader was, however, granted bail and his sentence was suspended for 30 days to let him appeal the decision. The very next day, Gandhi was disqualified as a Member of  Parliament from Wayanad constituency in line with a 2013 Supreme Court judgment.

In 2005, lawyer Lily Thomas along with an NGO had filed a plea with the Supreme Court against section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (hereafter referred RPA), that provided a three months window to any legislator- who is convicted with imprisonment of at least 2 years-  from the date of conviction before their disqualification.  Within that period, the convicted could have filed an appeal against the sentence before a higher court.

Also Read: India’s Population ‘140 Crore Rupees’? Clipped Version Of Rahul Gandhi’s Speech Goes Viral

Notably, it is Section 8(3) of the same act that states that the conviction of a lawmaker for an offence that carries a sentence of two years or more leads to them being disqualified from the House.

In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down this provision of the RPA. The apex court had observed, “Parliament had no power to enact sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act and accordingly sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act is ultra vires the Constitution.” It added that if any sitting member of Parliament or State Legislature is convicted of any offence under sub-section (1), (2), and (3) of Section 8, RPA, then “by virtue of such conviction and/or sentence” they will be disqualified. The court added that a convicted parliamentarian or legislator’s membership will no longer be protected by Section 8 (4), as was previously the case.

Fact Check/Verification

We began our investigation by ascertaining the viral photograph of Gandhi that is being used as evidence to show that the Congress leader had torn up the ordinance that would have spared his disqualification from the parliament. 

A keyword search for “Rahul Gandhi,” “tears paper” & “stage” on Google led us to a video report by NDTV, dated February 16, 2012. The report carried a snippets of Gandhi tearing up a piece of paper, and stated, “Accusing the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) of making “only promises“, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today tore a piece of paper at an election meeting to drive home the point that “mere lists” of assurances were of no use.”

Following this, we looked up keywords “Rahul Gandhi,” “tears paper” “BSP SP” “only promises” &  “2012” on Google which yielded a report published in India Today, dated February 15, 2012.  Carrying the viral photograph, the article corroborated with the NDTV report and added, “They promise that they will give power, water, employment and if not employment then unemployment allowance…this is mere list of assurances…,” he said at an election meeting and tore a paper it to stress his point. (sic)”

Screengrab from India Today website

Hence, the viral photograph does not show Gandhi ripping apart the Manmohan Singh government’s ordinance against the Supreme Court judgment on legislator disqualification.

But Did Gandhi Tear Up Such An Ordinance?

The Supreme Court’s landmark judgment on disqualifying a legislator immediately when convicted for two or more years’ prison was passed in 2013. Soon after, the then UPA government in the centre had taken the ordinance route to negate the apex court’s judgment on convicted lawmakers.

Notably, Rahul Gandhi had condemned the ordinance introduced by his party calling it a “complete nonsense.” An Economic Times report dated September 27, 2013, stated, “In a major embarrassment to the UPA government, Rahul Gandhi on Friday denounced the controversial ordinance to negate the Supreme Court verdict on convicted lawmakers as “complete nonsense” and said what “our government has done is wrong”.

Screengrab from Economic Times website

It added, “Making a surprise brief appearance at a meet-the-press programme of his party’s general secretary Ajay Maken at the Press Club here, he said the ordinance should be “torn up and thrown away.”

We also found the video footage of the press conference where Gandhi had made this statement. In the video Gandhi is heard saying, “I’ll tell you what  my opinion on the ordinance is. My opinion on the ordinance is that it’s complete nonsense, and that it should be torn up and thrown away. That’s my opinion. My personal opinion on the ordinance.”

A longer version of this press meet can be seen here.

Though Gandhi is heard saying that the ordinance “should be torn up,” he is not seen physically tearing up the document aimed to negate the Supreme Court’s judgment on convicted lawmakers.

Multiple news outlets had reported on Gandhi’s “shocking” statement denouncing the ordinance in 2013. Such reports can be seen here, here and here.

Consequently, the ordinance was withdrawn despite getting approval from the Union Cabinet.

Conclusion

We could thus conclude that Rahul Gandhi had condemned the ordinance to negate the 2013 Supreme Court judgment striking down Section 8(4) of the RPA, he did not physically tear up any document related to the same. A photograph of Gandhi from an election rally in 2012 is being shared in a false context.

Result: False

Sources

Report By India Today, Dated February 15, 2012
Report By Economic Times, Dated September 27, 2013
YouTube Video By NDTV, Dated September 27, 2013


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Authors

Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

Vasudha Beri
Vasudha Beri
Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

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