A sessions court in Surat on Thursday, 20 April, rejected Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's plea seeking a stay on his conviction in the 2019 'Modi-surname' criminal defamation case.
The court, on 23 March, had convicted Rahul Gandhi in a criminal defamation case for his comment that said "all people with Modi surname are thieves" that he made during an election rally in Kolar in April 2019.
He has been sentenced to two years in jail and was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha a day later.
Since the sessions court on 3 April granted him bail in the case till the disposal of his appeal, Gandhi will remain out of prison but also out of the Parliament till the conviction by the Surat court is either stayed or convicted.
The Congress is likely to move the Gujarat High Court in the matter, reports say.
Congress communications incharge Jairam Ramesh took to Twitter to say: "We will continue to avail all options still available to us under the law."
Congress leader Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi will address the media at 4:00 pm.
Alleging defamation, BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi had filed a complaint under Sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code against Rahul Gandhi for his alleged remarks.
Following his conviction in March, his sentence was suspended and he was also granted bail to enable him to appeal against his conviction within 30 days.
The sessions court on 3 April granted him bail in the case till the disposal of his appeal.
On 13 April, the sessions court heard Gandhi's plea, as well as the contentions of Purnesh Modi, and reserved its verdict in the matter for 20 April.
Gandhi's lawyers had filed two applications, one for a stay on the sentence (or bail till the disposal of his appeal) and another for a stay on conviction till the disposal of the appeal.
Appearing for Rahul Gandhi, senior advocate RS Cheema, according to Bar and Bench, pointed out before the court that only an aggrieved person can file a defamation complaint, as per the law. Moreover, Cheema pointed out that the speech is not defamatory until it is taken out of context.
Gandhi said that the trial court stated two reasons for the conviction - that the complainant (BJP Leader Purnesh Modi) was shocked at his statements, and that his reputation was hurt. However these reasons do not make Purnesh Modi an aggrieved person under IPC Sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation.)