Huge Relief For Rahul Gandhi, SC Stays Congress Leader’s Conviction In Defamation Case
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had challenged the Gujarat High Court verdict which dismissed his plea seeking a stay on his conviction in a defamation case over his ‘Modi surname’ remark.
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the conviction of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in the 2019 ‘Modi surname’ remark defamation case. A three-judge bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha and Sanjay Kumar said no doubt that the utterances were not in ‘good taste’ and that a person in public life is expected to exercise caution while making public speeches.
“No reason has been given by the trial judge for imposing maximum sentence, the order of conviction needs to be stayed pending final adjudication,” the bench said.
During the hearing, Rahul Gandhi told the apex court that the original surname of former Gujarat minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Purnesh Modi, who filed a defamation case against him, is not Modi and that he belongs to the Modh Vanika Samaj.
Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the former Congress chief, told the bench that his client is not a ‘hardened criminal’ and that there is no conviction in any case despite several cases filed against him by BJP workers.
Purnesh Modi had filed a criminal defamation case in 2019 against Rahul Gandhi over his ‘How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?’ remark made during an election rally in Karnataka in April 2019.
The Congress leader was then disqualified as a Member of Parliament on March 24 this year after a Surat court convicted him and sentenced him to two-year imprisonment for criminal defamation for the comments he made about the Modi surname.
Congress welcomes SC decision on Rahul Gandhi defamation case
Congress MP KC Venugopal welcomed the SC decision on Rahul Gandhi’s defamation case and said that they ‘believe’ in the legal procedure.
“We believe in the legal procedure and the system of the country and welcome the decision,” Venugopal said on Supreme Court staying the conviction of Gandhi in the ‘Modi surname’ remark case.
Rahul Gandhi says conviction ‘unsustainable’, refuses to apologise
In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, Rahul Gandhi had said that Purnesh Modi has in his reply used ‘slanderous’ terms such as ‘arrogant’ for him only because he has refused to apologise. The Congress leader once again refused to apologise for his remark that led to his disqualification as an MP but urged the Supreme Court to stay his conviction in the criminal defamation case stemming from his comment, asserting he is ‘not guilty’.
“Using the criminal process and the consequences under the Representation of People Act to arm-twist the Petitioner into apologising for no fault is a 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.
Rahul Gandhi, who was disqualified as MP from Kerala’s Wayanad, submitted he has an ‘exceptional’ case considering the offence was ‘trivial’, and the irreparable harm that accrues to him having been disqualified as a lawmaker.
“On the other hand, there is no prejudice caused at all to the complainant. It is therefore prayed for that the conviction of Rahul Gandhi be stayed, enabling him to participate in the ongoing sittings of the Lok Sabha and the sessions thereafter,” he said in the affidavit.
The former Congress chief claimed there is no community or ‘samaj’ on record going by the name ‘Modi’ and hence, the offence of defaming the Modi community as a whole does not arise.
“There is no Modi samaj or community established on record and there are only Modi Vanika Samaj or Modh Ghanchi Samaj existing… He (the complainant) has also admitted that the Modi surname falls under various other castes. There is also the admission that Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi and Mehul Choksi all do not fall within the same caste,” the affidavit said.
Earlier, Purnesh Modi had sought the dismissal of Gandhi’s appeal against his conviction in the criminal defamation case, saying he has defamed all those bearing the Modi surname, particularly people belonging to the ‘Modh Vanik’ caste of Gujarat.
On June 21, the top court had sought responses from Modi and the state government on Gandhi’s appeal.
In his appeal filed on July 15, Gandhi said if the judgment is not stayed, it would lead to the throttling of free speech, expression, thought, and statement.
It is notable that the high court had dismissed his petition for a stay on conviction, observing that ‘purity in politics’ is the need of the hour
Source : Zee News
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