Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has appealed in the Surat sessions court against the Chief Judicial Magistrate order sentencing him to a two-year jail term in a defamation case, news reports said on Sunday (April 2). The court will reportedly hear his plea on Monday (April 3).
Gandhi has reportedly appealed to the sessions court to set aside the CJM order and asked for an interim stay on the conviction till the matter is disposed of.
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Gandhi was held guilty on March 23 in a case filed over his remark “all thieves have Modi surname” made at an election rally in 2019. CJM HH Verma’s sentence also led to the former Wayanad MP’s disqualification from the Parliament.
Gandhi got bail against a surety of Rs 15,000, and his sentence was suspended for 30 days to allow him to appeal.
The contentious remark
It was BJP MLA Purnesh Modi who had filed the defamation case against Gandhi over the remark he made at a rally in Kolar, Karnataka. Another defamation case was filed against Gandhi by Sushil Kumar Modi for the same remarks. Gandhi has reportedly been asked to appear in a Patna court on April 12 in connection with that case.
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Even former Indian Premier League (IPL) chief Lalit Modi, who has been living in the UK since facing allegations of corruption in the IPL, has threatened to sue Gandhi over his “Modi surname” remark.
The Congress has maintained that Gandhi’s conviction and subsequent disqualification as an MP are merely efforts to silence his questioning of PM Narendra Modi’s connections with business tycoon Gautam Adani who has been accused of malpractices by the US-based short seller Hindenburg Research.
There has been ruckus in Parliament with the Opposition protesting since the allegations against Adani cropped up and, subsequently, Gandhi’s conviction and disqualification. He was quickly served a notice to vacate his official Delhi bungalow as well.
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Though the Election Commission hasn’t yet announced a bypoll date for the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat, it will do so unless a higher court puts Gandhi’s conviction on hold. Also, the Congress leader will not be allowed to contest polls for the next eight years.
The BJP has called Gandhi arrogant and suggested that he fight against his conviction in court and not in the Parliament.
It has also slammed the former Congress MP for his remark, claiming that he deliberately insulted the entire OBC community. Congress has claimed that the surname Modi is not an OBC.
Congress has termed Gandhi’s conviction “erroneous and unsustainable.” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi had said after the verdict, “We believe that this is full of errors and legally unsustainable in conclusion. But make no mistake generally…all your (government’s) efforts to create a chilling effect, a throttling effect, strangulating effect on open, fearless speech relating to public interest will not stop either Rahul Gandhi or the Congress party.”
(With agency inputs)