Saturday, September 30, 2023

Gujarat High Court judge recuses from hearing Rahul Gandhi plea against conviction in defamation case

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Justice Gita Gopi, judge at the Gujarat High Court, on Tuesday recused herself from hearing the petition of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, seeking a stay on his conviction in the 2019 defamation case over his Modi surname remark.

The former Wayanad MP had filed a criminal revision before the High Court against the April 20 order of a Surat court, which dismissed his application seeking stay on his conviction.

Additional Sessions Judge Robin Mogera in Surat had rejected Gandhi’s petition seeking stay on his conviction.

On March 23, Chief Judicial Magistrate H.H. Varma had sentenced the Congress leader to two years in jail after finding him guilty under Sections 499 (Defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) IPC.

Gandhi’s conviction under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), both of which warrant a maximum sentence of two years, led to his disqualification from the Parliament, as per a Supreme Court order of 2013.

Addressing a rally during an election campaign in Kolar city of Karnataka, Rahul had said, “Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi. How come all the thieves have ‘Modi’ as a common surname?”

Finding the remark objectionable, BJP leader Purnesh Modi filed a case against Gandhi in Surat. The Congress leader was convicted in this case.

BJP leader from Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi also filed a suit against Gandhi over the same remark. Earlier this week, the Patna High Court had stayed the proceedings before a Bihar court against Rahul Gandhi in the defamation case filed by Sushil Modi till May 16.

On March 31, a Patna court had directed Rahul Gandhi to appear physically on April 12, so as to record his statement under Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in the defamation case.

Close to 10 criminal defamation cases are currently pending against Gandhi in various courts across the country for various statements. However, the former Wayanad MP has not filed any such case against anyone.

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