New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) has sought responses from former Gujarat Minister Purnesh Modi and the State Government on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s appeal challenging the Gujarat High Court’s verdict which dismissed his plea for seeking a stay on his conviction in a defamation case over his “Modi surname” remark.
The Apex Court has posted the matter for further hearing on Aug. 4.
A Bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and P.K. Mishra issued notices this morning to Purnesh Modi, who had filed a criminal defamation case in 2019 against Gandhi scion over his “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” remark made during an election rally at Kolar in Karnataka.
“The limited question at this stage is whether the conviction deserves to be stayed,” the Bench observed.
Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, who appeared for Rahul Gandhi, said “The Congress leader has already suffered for 111 days, losing one Parliament session and is about to lose another session.”
In his appeal filed on July 15, Rahul Gandhi had said that “If the July 7 judgement (of Gujarat High Court that refused to put on hold his conviction in the case and two-year jail term that was awarded by a Surat Court in March this year) is not stayed, it would lead to throttling of free speech, expression, thought and statement.”
The Congress leader was disqualified as a Member of Parliament (MP) on March 24 after a Surat Court convicted him and sentenced him to two-year imprisonment on charges of criminal defamation for comments he made about the Modi surname.
A stay on Gandhi’s conviction could have paved the way for his reinstatement as a Lok Sabha MP but he failed to get any relief from either the Sessions Court or the Gujarat High Court. Hence, he has now approached the Supreme Court.
The HC had said Rahul Gandhi made a false statement to affect the poll results and used Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name only to add sensation to his speech. Besides this, the HC acknowledged the existence of 10 additional defamation complaints against Rahul Gandhi, including one filed by the grandnephew of Veer Savarkar in a Pune Court.