Gujarat High Court upholds Sessions Court's order denying stay on conviction of Rahul Gandhi in the defamation case against 'Modi surname' remark.
In April, a sessions court in Surat had dismissed the Congress leader’s appeal against the conviction order passed by a magistrate’s court in the previous month.
Rahul Gandhi will not be able to contest elections or seek revocation of the suspension of his status as a Member of Parliament (MP). He can appeal the High Court order in Supreme Court.
Gujarat High Court says that the Trial Court conviction order is proper, there is no need to interfere with the said order. Therefore, the application is dismissed.
The Court further noted that at least 10 criminal cases are pending against Rahul Gandhi.
The incident itself dates back to April 13, 2019. Rahul was campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections, and at an election rally in Kolar, Karnataka, he said in Hindi: “Why do all thieves, be it Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, or Narendra Modi, have the surname ‘Modi’?” He was making a rhetorical reference to the fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi and the former cricket administrator Lalit Modi, both of whom face allegations of financial fraud.
The day after Rahul’s speech, a local BJP leader and former Gujarat state minister, Purnesh Modi, filed a private complaint before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat, accusing the Congress leader of having defamed everyone with the name Modi.
On March 23, 2023, Magistrate H H Verma found Rahul guilty of criminal defamation under IPC Section 500, and gave him the maximum sentence allowed under that section, which is two years in jail. The court’s decision triggered Section 8(3) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951, which states: “A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.”
In consequence, on March 24, the Lok Sabha Secretariat issued a notification saying that Rahul stood disqualified from the House with effect from March 23, the date of his conviction.