The Gujarat High Court dismissed Rahul Gandhi's review plea to suspend his conviction in a criminal defamation case over his Modi surname remark. With this judgment, Rahul Gandhi will not be able to able to contest elections or seek revocation of the suspension of his status as a Member of Parliament (MP). The Congress in response said that they would move the Supreme Court against the High Court order.
While dismissing his plea, the Gujarat High Court noted that the stay on conviction was being sought on 'absolutely non-existent' grounds. "Stay on conviction is not a rule. As many as 10 cases are pending against (Gandhi). It is needed to have purity in politics...A complaint has been filed against (Gandhi) by the grandson of Veer Savarkar in Pune Court after Gandhi used terms against Veer Savarkar at Cambridge...Refusal to stay conviction would not in any way result in injustice to the applicant. There are no reasonable grounds to stay conviction," Justice Hemant Prachchhak observed while pronouncing the order.
Modi Surname Case
The criminal defamation case was filed over a remark made by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the 2019 Lok Sabha campaign. He allegedly said, "why all thieves have the same surname?" while referring to persons like Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi.
Alleging that Gandhi's remarks defamed the 'entire Modi community', BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi filed a defamation case against him.
Rahul Gandhi Disqualification
A Surat Court convicted Rahul Gandhi on March 23, 2023 and sentenced him to 2 years of imprisonment, following which the Congress leader was disqualified as a Member of Parliament (MP). However, his sentence was suspended and was granted bail on the same day, allowing him to appeal against his conviction in a matter of 30 days.
Gandhi approached the Surat Sessions Court on April 3, assailing his conviction but it was rejected on April 20. However, Surat Sessions Court on April 3 granted bail to Gandhi till the disposal of his appeal.
The Congress leader has maintained that there was no malafide intention on his part when he made the statement in question.
Noting the judgment, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that it redoubles their resolve to pursue the matter further. "We have noted the verdict of the single-judge bench of the Gujarat High Court on the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi. The reasoning of the Judge is being studied, as it should be, and Dr Abhishek Singhvi will be briefing the media in detail at 3pm."
Meanwhile, BJP MLA Purnesh Modi welcomed the high court's verdict. "He should think about it and not create such histories," he said when asked about court's observation that Rahul Gandhi has made such remarks before.
(This is a developing story. More details are awaited.)