Defamation case | Surat court grants bail to Rahul Gandhi; sentence suspended till disposal of appeal

Rahul Gandhi was convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment by a magisterial court over his ‘Modi surname’ remark

April 03, 2023 03:38 pm | Updated April 04, 2023 01:14 am IST - AHMEDABAD

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi leaves the Surat sessions court premises on April 3, 2023 after he filed an appeal in the 2019 criminal defamation case.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi leaves the Surat sessions court premises on April 3, 2023 after he filed an appeal in the 2019 criminal defamation case. | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

A sessions court in Surat on Monday granted bail to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi after admitting his appeal challenging the conviction and sentencing in a defamation case filed by a BJP legislator over his 2019 remark about the Modi surname. Mr.Gandhi was sentenced to two years of imprisonment in the case.

The court also suspended the sentence till the disposal of the appeal filed by Mr. Gandhi.

Mr. Gandhi has filed two applications, first for suspension of sentence, which is essentially an application for regular bail, and the second for suspension of conviction.

The court will take up hearing on the appeal against the conviction on April 13. It will further hear the application on sentencing on May 3.

“He was granted bail by the court. The sentencing was also stayed. Now, the application for the stay of conviction is posted for hearing on April 13,” a lawyer involved in the matter said.

Mr. Gandhi later tweeted that he was fighting a battle to save democracy and truth was his weapon. “This is a fight to save democracy, against ‘Mitrakal’ ... In this struggle, truth is my weapon, and truth is my support!” he said.

Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi arrives at Surat court premises | Video Credit: ANI

Mr. Gandhi was convicted and sentenced in the case on March 23. He was disqualified as a member of Lok Sabha the next day.

According to experts, if the conviction is stayed by the court, his Lok Sabha membership could potentially be restored.

The court of additional district judge R.P. Mogera also issued notice to the complainant, Purnesh Modi, who filed the criminal defamation case after Mr. Gandhi said “all thieves have Modi surname” at a rally in Karnataka during the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The complainant has been asked to file a reply by April 10.

Mr. Gandhi arrived at the Surat District and Sessions Court accompanied by his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka, while top party leaders and thousands of workers gathered outside with banners in a show of solidarity.

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