The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Friday Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's appeal against the Gujarat High Court verdict dismissing his plea seeking a stay on his conviction in a defamation case over his "Modi surname" remark.
A bench of justices B R Gavai and P K Mishra will likely take up the matter tomorrow.
A bench headed by CJI D Y Chandrachud had on July 18 agreed to hear Gandhi's plea after senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi mentioned the matter and sought urgent hearing.
In his appeal, Gandhi has said if the July 7 HC judgment is not stayed, it will lead to "throttling of free speech, expression, thought, and statement".
Purnesh Modi, a former minister in the Gujarat government, had filed a criminal defamation case in 2019 against Gandhi over his "how all thieves have Modi as the common surname" remark made during an election rally at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019. He was apparently referring to businessmen Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi, two fugitive prominent businessmen wanted in India.
Gandhi has said in his plea he will suffer irreparable injury if the HC order is not stayed. He has said an irreversible consequence of not staying the order will result in injustice as, because of the conviction, he currently stands disqualified as a Member of Parliament from Wayanad in Kerala and cannot participate in parliamentary proceedings.
Gandhi, as an interim relief, has sought an ad-interim ex-parte stay of the July 7 order of the Gujarat High court during the pendency of this appeal in the top court.
The Congress leader was disqualified as an MP on March 24 after a Gujarat court convicted and sentenced him to two-year imprisonment on the charge of criminal defamation for comments he made about the Modi surname.
In a setback to the 53-year-old Gandhi, the high court had dismissed his petition for a stay on conviction on July 7, observing that "purity in politics" is the need of the hour.
A stay on Gandhi's conviction could have paved the way for his reinstatement as a Lok Sabha MP but he failed to get any relief from either the sessions court or the Gujarat High Court.
A metropolitan magistrate's court in Surat had on March 23 sentenced the former Congress president to two years in jail after convicting him under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500 (criminal defamation).
Following the verdict, Gandhi was disqualified as an MP under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act.
Gandhi challenged the order in a sessions court in Surat and filed an application seeking a stay on his conviction.
While granting him bail, the Surat sessions court had on April 20 refused to stay the conviction, following which he approached the high court.