Friday 19th April 2024
Friday 19th April 2024
गृहपृष्ठNepalSurat Court Rejects Rahul Gandhi’s Plea for a Stay on His Conviction in Defamation Case

Surat Court Rejects Rahul Gandhi’s Plea for a Stay on His Conviction in Defamation Case

NEW DELHI – A Surat sessions court on Thursday (April 20) dismissed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s plea for a stay on his conviction and two-year sentence in a defamation case.

The case is based on a complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Purnesh Modi, based on a speech Gandhi had given in Kolar in 2019 in which he said, “I have a question. Why do all these thieves have Modi in their names whether it is Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi? We don’t know how many more such Modis will come out.” The complainant held that Gandhi had defamed all people whose surname is Modi.

If the Surat court had allowed Gandhi’s petition today, the Lok Sabha Secretariat would likely have had to restore his membership of the House. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the party will avail of all the available legal options now, and appeal at the high court. Congress leader and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi will brief the media about the party’s future legal course on Thursday evening.

Gandhi’s appeal came up for hearing in the sessions court in front of Judge Robin Mogera. As The Wire has reported, Judge Mogera had served as BJP leader and now Union home minister Amit Shah’s lawyer in the Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case. Given the political importance of this case, coming on the heels of the 2024 general elections, it is possible that questions around a conflict of interest may be raised.

Gandhi had argued that only the prime minister could have filed for defamation, as there was no defined ‘Modi’ group, and so Purnesh Modi’s case was not maintainable. However, the court disagreed. “…the complainant is ex-minister and involved in public life and such defamatory remarks would have certainly harmed his reputation and caused him pain and agony in society. For such reasons, I do not agree with the objections raised with regard to maintainability of the complaint,” Judge Mogera said in his order, according to Bar and Bench.

After being found guilty, Gandhi was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment by the Surat CJM court, which also gave him a period of 30 days to move a higher court against the order. Two years is the minimum sentence a lawmaker must face in order to be dismissed from parliament – and also the maximum sentence under the defamation law.

Judge Mogera on Thursday stood behind the CJM’s decision to grant the maximum sentence, saying, “So far as imposing of maximum punishment is concerned, it would be worthwhile to observe that the appellant was not an ordinary person and was sitting MP, connected with public life. Any word spoken by appellant would have large impact in mind of common public.. Moreover, high standard of morality is expected from a person like appellant and the trial court had inflicted sentence, which was permissible in law.”

Gandhi is also facing a defamation case in Patna based on the same speech, on the basis of a complaint filed by BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi. The Congress leader has denied the allegations that his speech was defamatory, saying it can appear defamatory only if taken completely out of context. The party has claimed that the conviction-at a time when Gandhi was raising the allegations against the Adani Group in parliament – was the BJP’s way of trying to silence Gandhi.

The political fallout of Gandhi’s conviction and disqualification has been so tremendous that even Congress’s rivals like Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) have come together on a common platform to stage protests against the Union government across the country.(PTI)

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