A Gujarat court on Thursday, 23 March, held Congress leader Rahul Gandhi guilty in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his alleged remark regarding the 'Modi surname.'
The court sentenced Gandhi to two years in jail in the case but later granted him bail.
The case was filed against Mr Gandhi by BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi for saying "How come all thieves have the common surname Modi?" The Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad made the remarks while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, targetting PM Modi over his last name which he shares with fugitive businessmen Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi.
Mr Gandhi arrived in Surat earlier in the day for the verdict and was received by top leaders of the Congress's Gujarat unit.
Mr Gandhi had last appeared before the Surat court in the case, in October 2021 to record his statement.
Case filed by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi alleged that Mr Gandhi, while addressing the poll rally in 2019, defamed the entire Modi community. Purnesh Modi was a minister in the first tenure of the Bhupendra Patel government. He was re-elected from the Surat West Assembly seat in the December elections.
Lower Court Verdict
Rahul Gandhi was present in the Surat court when the sentence was pronounced.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison on Thursday in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surname by a court in Gujarat's Surat. The sentence was, however, suspended for 30 days to allow him to appeal the decision, and granted bail.
A two years imprisonment for Rahul Gandhi technically attracts disqualification from Lok Sabha under Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, unless the sentencing is stayed by a higher court.
Rahul Gandhi, or any other MP, is allowed 3 months for appeal.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal
He further added, "I would urge Rahul Gandhi if he represents the politics of truth and love as he claims, he must come to terms with the fact that today PM Narendra Modi is the most loved, admired & the most trusted leader in India and across the world. He should come out of this dynastic mindset and realise that no individual is bigger than the country, bigger than the people of India, bigger than the Constitution of India & nobody should consider himself above the law."
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday said that her brother (Rahul Gandhi) lived speaking the truth and would continue to speak the truth after Rahul Gandhi was found guilty in the criminal defamation case filed against him over his alleged 'Modi surname' remark. "The entire scared machinery of power is trying to suppress the voice of Rahul Gandhi through 'saam, daam, dand, bhed'. My brother has never been afraid, nor will he ever be. He has lived speaking the truth, will continue to speak the truth", tweeted Priyanka Gandhi in Hindi.
"A conspiracy is being hatched to eliminate non-BJP leaders and parties by prosecuting them. We have differences with the Congress, but it is not right to implicate Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case like this. It is the job of the public and the opposition to ask questions. We respect the court but disagree with the decision," he said.
We keep saying our democracy is in danger as there is pressure on judiciary, ECI, ED ... they're all misused. All decisions are made under influence. Such comments are common ... Rahul Gandhi is a courageous man and only he can compete with NDA govt: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday said that the party will fight as per law. "He has been granted bail. We knew from the beginning because they kept changing judges. We believe in law, judiciary and we will fight against this as per law," Kharge said.
"My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, non-violence the means to get it - Mahatma Gandhi," Rahul tweets in Hindi after he was found guilty in the criminal defamation case filed against him over his alleged 'Modi surname' remark.