National Affairs

Defamation case: Gujarat High Court Hears Rahul Gandhi’s plea

Hearing on Rahul Gandhi’s review petition in the Modi surname defamation case was held on Saturday in the Gujarat High Court. 

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi presented his arguments on behalf of Rahul Gandhi. 

After hearing the arguments of Singhvi, Justice Hemant Prachhak said – Now let the complainant present his case. Will settle the matter on May 2.

On March 23, Surat court sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years imprisonment under section 500. However, he got bail immediately from the court.

 Earlier, in a hearing held on April 20, the Surat sessions court refused to stay Rahul Gandhi’s sentence in the criminal defamation case. After this, Rahul has approached the Gujarat High Court.

The case pertains to Rahul’s statement made during an election rally in Bengaluru in 2019. 

Rahul had said in the rally that why the surname of every thief is Modi. Gujarat’s BJP MLA Purnesh Modi filed a defamation case on this statement.

Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Rahul Gandhi, said – We are demanding a stay on the decision. This is not a serious crime that cannot be forgiven. We are demanding a stay on the conviction. In case of non-recognition such complaint cannot be lodged. 

Citing the example of Navjot Singh Sidhu, he said that when Navjot Singh Sidhu can get a stay on his sentence, then why not Rahul Gandhi?

Singhvi also argued that in such cases, the punishment could be 3 to 6 months on conviction, but not 1-2 years. 

For the first offence, the punishment may not exceed 2 years. If the sentence is not stayed, the political career of the petitioner may end.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi also read the statement of Purnesh Modi presented before the Surat Magistrate and raised the question- Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Vijay Mallya do not come from any caste? So how were the feelings of the complainant hurt?

Modi surname comes in many castes. The surname Modi is found in many castes and communities. How did the complainant decide that Rahul Gandhi spoke only about him?

“Rahul Gandhi was sentenced on 23 March 2023 and his MP post was also canceled on 24 March. Whereas, it is not such a serious matter. In other cases, even after conviction, disqualification is not done. After disqualification of Rahul Gandhi, he cannot raise the issues of his constituency, which is injustice to his constituency” he said.

He further said- In the case of a public servant or a Member of Parliament, it has very serious consequences for the person as well as the constituency, which cannot be reversed later. It also has dire consequences for re-election.

Singhvi also raised questions on the summons sent to Rahul Gandhi for the first time and said – How can summons be issued on the basis of just a WhatsApp clip? Thousands of messages come on WhatsApp. Not even a copy of any newspaper or pen drive was produced before the magistrate.

Singhvi argued that there would be three possibilities in the matter of speech. I heard the speech myself and I was there so I am filing a complaint. Another could be that a reporter gets involved and files a story, he can testify. Or any other person, who has attended the program, can authenticate that speech. But, none of the witnesses present in this case belong to the above three categories.

The matter is of 2019
This case is related to Rahul’s statement given during the election rally in Bengaluru in 2019. Rahul had said in the rally that why the surname of every thief is Modi. Gujarat’s BJP MLA Purnesh Modi filed a defamation case on this statement.

In his complaint, the BJP MLA had alleged that while addressing an election rally in 2019, Rahul defamed the entire Modi community by allegedly saying why all thieves have the surname Modi?

In this case, the Sessions Court of Surat had given its verdict on March 23, 2023. On the basis of this, the Parliament membership of Rahul Gandhi was canceled the next day.

Rahul had also filed petitions in the Surat court, one of which was rejected by the court and the other (against the verdict of 2 years jail) is to be heard on May 3.

Rahul’s Parliament membership was canceled on 24 March. After this, the Lok Sabha Housing Committee sent a notice to Rahul to vacate the bungalow on March 27. 

The committee had asked him to vacate his official residence at 12 Tughlaq Road by April 22. Rahul has decided to vacate the bungalow and stay in Sonia Gandhi’s residence.

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