Gujarat: In a major setback to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the Gujarat High Court rejected his plea for an interim stay against conviction in connection with the Modi surname defamation case. This result has affected Congress party adversely as Gandhi will not be able to contest elections or seek revocation of the suspension of his status as a Member of Parliament (MP). However, he can appeal the High Court order in Supreme Court.
What did the Court Say?
Gujarat High Court during the hearing stated that the Trial Court conviction order is proper and there is no need to interfere with the said order. Therefore, the application is dismissed. The Court further noted that at least 10 criminal cases are pending against Rahul Gandhi.
Earlier in May, Justice Prachchhak, while hearing Gandhi’s plea, had refused to grant any interim relief saying it will pass a final order after the summer vacation, which ended three weeks back.
During a hearing on April 29, Gandhi’s lawyer had argued that a maximum punishment of two years for a bailable, non-cognisable offence meant his client could lose his Lok Sabha seat “permanently and irreversibly”, which was a “very serious additional irreversible consequence to the person and the constituency he represents”.
Surat Court Sentenced 2-year Jail to Gandhi On March 23
A metropolitan magistrate’s court in Surat sentenced the former Congress president to two years in jail on March 23 after convicting him under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500 (criminal defamation) in a 2019 case filed by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Purnesh Modi.
Following the verdict, Gandhi, elected to the Lok Sabha from Wayanad in Kerala, was disqualified as MP under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act.
Rahul Gandhi Moved HC After Surat Court Rejected Stay On Conviction
Gandhi challenged the order in a sessions court in Surat along with an application seeking a stay on the conviction. While granting him bail, the court, on April 20, refused to stay the conviction, after which he approached the high court.
Surat West MLA Purnesh Modi filed a criminal defamation case against Gandhi over his “how come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” remark made during an election rally at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019.