No relief for Rahul Gandhi as Surat court on Thursday dismissed his plea seeking a stay of conviction in a defamation case over his ‘Modi surname’ remark in 2019.
Court’s rejection means that he cannot be reinstated as Member of Parliament for now and even his chances to contest 2024 Loksabha election seem uncertain at this point.
Ranjeet Cheema, a supreme court lawyer who is handling Rahul Gandhi’s case called the verdict “harsh and highly excessive” adding that the trial court judge “made a hotchpotch of all the evidence on record and the defamatory imputation is neither proved nor intention to defame Modis is proved”, as reported by the Indian Express.
On Thursday, Naishadh Desai, a Congress leader and lawyer said, “We are going to challenge the decision in Gujarat High Court tomorrow [Friday]. We have full faith that the judiciary will uphold justice and save the democracy,” while speaking to the media.
In India, elections law mandates disqualification of any politician who is “convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years”.
Gandhi’s conviction has put him at a risk of losing eligibility to run in elections for the next eight years if a court does not overturn his conviction and two-year sentence.
Last month, the district court of Surat convicted the politician last month in a defamation case and sentenced two years in prison in Gujarat. The case was filed by Purnesh Modi, who was a forme Gujarat minister and BJP MLA from Surat West.
In 2019, Rahul Gandhi made a remark at an election rally in Kolar, Karnataka, said, “How come all thieves have the common surname Modi?”
Gandhi was granted bail by the lower court for 30 days to appeal the verdict.