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Defamation case: No relief for Rahul Gandhi as Surat court rejects appeal

The Congress leader was on March 23 convicted to serve a two-year jail term for his derogatory remarks at a public meeting about those with the surname Modi

Rahul Gandhi, congress

Rahul Gandhi

Bhavini MishraPress Trust of India New Delhi

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A sessions court in Surat on Thursday rejected Rahul Gandhi’s plea for a stay on his conviction in a criminal defamation case over his Modi surname remark, holding that the Congress leader should have been “more careful with his words” since he was a Member of Parliament and the then president of the country's second largest political party.

The Congress leader was on March 23 convicted to serve a two-year jail term for his derogatory remarks at a public meeting about those with the surname Modi.

Denying the disqualified MP relief that could have paved the way for his reinstatement in the Lok Sabha, additional sessions judge R P Mogera observed that a "high standard of morality" is expected from a person like Gandhi, adding that the trial court had imposed a sentence which was permissible in law.

It observed that the Congress leader's removal or disqualification as MP under section 8(3) of Representation of the People Act, 1951 "cannot be termed as irreversible or irreparable loss or damage." 

Gandhi, who will continue to remain out on bail, stood disqualified from contesting Lok Sabha and Assembly elections for a period of eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction.

Congress spokesperson A M Singhvi said the ‘erroneous decision’ of the sessions court would be challenged in the high court. “We are confident that superior courts with the constitutional power of judicial review will set right the legal errors found in this judgment,” he said.

The BJP hailed the court order as a "victory" of the judiciary and the people. BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said the court's decision is "a blow" to the arrogance of the Gandhi family, "especially Rahul Gandhi.

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First Published: Apr 20 2023 | 9:03 PM IST

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