Modi surname case: Supreme Court stays Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a criminal defamation case, revives MP status

Supreme Court stays Rahul Gandhi's conviction in criminal defamation case over ‘Modi surname’ remark.

Edited By Sanchari Ghosh
Updated4 Aug 2023
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi (File photo)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi (File photo)(Congress Twitter)

Supreme Court on Friday stayed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's conviction in a criminal defamation case linked to "Modi surname" remark, and revived his status as a Member of Parliament.  

The apex court cited, there was no reasons given by trial judge in giving the maximum punishment of two years

Disqualification affects not only Gandhi but also the electorates of his constituency, it added. 

However, the top court also cautioned that Gandhi should have been more careful in making the alleged remarks. 

On Friday, SC heard a plea by Rahul Gandhi challenging Gujarat HC high verdict that declined to put on hold his conviction in a defamation case over his "Modi surname" remark. Earlier this year, Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as an MP for his comments linked to PM Modi

Read full argument here: 

Abhishek Manu Singhvi , who appeared for Rahul Gandhi at the Supreme Court, said, ‘No one was named by Rahul Gandhi in his speech’

The trial court cites 13 cases, but where are the convictions. Where are the criminal anecdotes, he tell Supreme Court. ‘Have no criminal antecedents, no conviction in cases filed by BJP workers’

He adds, ‘Rahul Gandhi has lost two Parliament sessions. He has been silenced for 8 years. For no other defamation cases, 2 years of suspension were pronounced’

Singhvi also questions, Is it Rahul's last chance to get acquittal?

Supreme Court earlier in the day told Singhvi that he will have to make out an exceptional case today for a stay on conviction.

Meanwhile, Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani appearing for complainant Purnesh Modi argues that the entire speech spanned over 50 minutes and there is plethora of evidence and clipping of the speech attached in Election Commission of India’s record.

Jethmalani says that Rahul Gandhi has defamed an entire class out of malice.

Responding to the arguments, SC said the conviction is also affecting the constituency.

Supreme Court says it wants to know why maximum sentence was given. Had the judge given a sentence of 1 year and 11 months, then he (Rahul Gandhi) would not have been disqualified, observes Supreme Court.

The court also said that Gandhi should have been more careful in making the alleged remarks.

Rahul Gandhi refuses to apologise

Rahul Gandhi earlier this week refused to apologise for his remark but urged the top court to stay his conviction in the criminal defamation case, asserting he is not guilty.

BJP leader and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi had filed a criminal defamation case against Gandhi in 2019 over his "How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?" remark made during an election rally in Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019.

In an affidavit filed before the top court, Gandhi said, Modi has in his reply used "slanderous" terms such as "arrogant" for him only because he has refused to apologise.

"Using the criminal process and the consequences under Representation of People Act to arm twist the Petitioner into apologising for no fault is gross abuse of the judicial process and ought not to be countenanced by this Court.

"The petitioner maintains and has always maintained that he is not guilty of offence and that the conviction is unsustainable and if he had to apologise and compound the offence, he would have done it much earlier," Gandhi said in the affidavit.

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