US Says Monitoring Rahul Gandhi's Case In Indian Courts, Invokes Democratic Values, Freedom Of Expression
The United States said that it remains committed to working with India on democratic principles and the protection of human rights, including freedom of expression.
Washington: The United States is keeping an close eye on Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi's court case, an official said, adding that Washington remains committed to working with India on democratic principles and the protection of human rights, including freedom of expression. Gandhi was sentenced to two years in prison on March 23 by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case for his remark "why all thieves have Modi surname." He was disqualified from the Lok Sabha a day later, effective from the date of his conviction in the case. The development comes after a Surat court sentenced Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to two years in prison in a defamation case over his remark about the 'Modi surname' made in 2019 during an election rally in Karnataka. 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 an essential component 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.
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Responding to a question, Patel said it is normal and standard 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.
Rahul Gandhi made the remark "how come all the thieves have Modi as a common surname" during a Lok Sabha election rally in Kolar, Karnataka, in April 2019. Purnesh Modi, a BJP MLA from Surat West, filed the criminal defamation case against Rahul Gandhi.