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Supreme Court to Hear Rahul Gandhi's Plea for Stay on Conviction in Defamation Case over Modi Surname Remarks on Jul 21

By Harshvardhan Sharma      19 July, 2023 09:59 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court to Hear Rahul Gandhi's Plea for Stay on Conviction in Defamation Case over Modi Surname Remarks on Jul 21

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear on July 21 a plea by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi against the Gujarat High Court's order dismissing his plea for stay on his conviction in a defamation case for the 2019 remarks on Modi surname.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud allowed a plea by senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the Congress leader, for urgent hearing.

Singhvi sought a direction to fix the matter for hearing on Friday or Monday.

The court agreed to consider the matter on Friday.

The High Court had on July 7 rejected Gandhi's plea to suspend his conviction in the defamation case in view of his statement as to why all thieves had Modi surname.

Gujarat BJP MLA Purnesh Modi, who filed the defamation complaint, has also moved a caveat in the Supreme Court, seeking a prior intimation of hearing in case the disqualified Wayanad MP challenged the High Court's order declining his plea for stay on conviction.

In its order, a bench of Justice Hemant Prachchhak had said that in view of Gandhi's conduct and other pending cases against him, the conviction in the present case would not do any injustice to him.

The court also pointed out it is well settled law that stay on conviction is not a rule but rather an exception.

"Moreover, as many as 10 criminal cases are pending against the applicant. It is now the need of the hour to have purity in politics...After the complaint in the present case, another complaint was filed at Pune by the grandson of Veer Savarkar against the applicant," the bench had said.

In April, a sessions court in Surat had also dismissed Gandhi's plea to stay his conviction in the defamation case, affecting his chances to get back his status as Member of Parliament.

It had then said as the MP and President of the second largest political party, he should have been more careful with his words, which would have large impact on the mind of people.

On March 23, 2023, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat had held Gandhi guilty for the offence of defamation and awarded him maximum two-year jail term on the complaint by Purnesh Modi.

In his petition before the top court, Rahul Gandhi justified his 2019 remarks, saying his political speech or satire criticising the government or a section of society, even if defamatory, cannot be equated with moral turpitude.

He also claimed if the conviction is not stayed, it would lead to throttling of free speech, free expression, free thought, and free statement. He said the issue may also be looked at from the point of view of the electorate, who would be deprived of representation.

He also said the petitioner would forfeit his right to represent the constituency and this loss is irreparable as even the subsequent acquittal of the petitioner cannot undo the damage.
 



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