Defamation case: Surat court suspends Rahul Gandhi’s sentence, grants bail; next hearing on April 13 

Published - April 03, 2023 07:57 pm IST

 Congress leader and Former member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra leave Sessions court in Surat on April 3, 2023.

Congress leader and Former member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra leave Sessions court in Surat on April 3, 2023. | Photo Credit: VIJAY SONEJI

The Surat Sessions Court suspended the sentence awarded to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in the criminal defamation case over his remark “why all thieves share the Modi surname” in which he was convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment by the magisterial court. The court supended Gandhi’s sentence till the disposal of his appeal.

The court also granted bail to the Congress leader and posted the matter for hearing on April 13. Gandhi was awarded two years imprisonment in the criminal defamation case.

“This is a fight to save democracy, against ‘Mitrakal’. In this struggle, truth is my weapon, and truth is my support,” Gandhi tweeted in Hindi after the court’s suspension of his sentence.

Earlier, after arriving from Delhi, Gandhi moved an appeal in the Surat Sessions Court challenging his conviction. The appeal has been accompanied by two applications, the first application is for Suspension of Sentence, which is essentially an application for regular bail, and the second application is for Suspension of Conviction.

He was convicted based on a criminal defamation case filed by BJP legislator Purnesh Modi, who had approached the court contending that Mr. Gandhi’s statement had defamed the Modi community.

His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and several senior leaders, including AICC General Secretary in charge of organisation K.C. Venugopal, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Digvijaya Singh and Anand Sharma also accompanied Gandhi to the sessions court in Surat. Gehlot received Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka at Surat Airport.

Gandhi was convicted and sentenced on March 23 in the 2019 defamation case. Subsequently, he was disqualified as a member of Lok Sabha the next day.

Delhi excise scam: Court extends Manish Sisodia’s judicial custody till April 17 

A designated CBI court on April 3, 2023 extended the judicial custody of former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia till April 17 in the Delhi excise scam case.

Sisodia was produced before special judge M.K. Nagpal who extended his judicial custody by 14 days following a prayer by the probe agency.

The federal agency told the court the investigation is at a crucial stage in the corruption case linked to the “scam”.

Sisodia was arrested for alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped liquor policy for 2021-22.

Chennai Police arrest Kalakshetra professor facing sexual harassment charges 

The city police has arrested Hari Padman, an assistant professor of Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts operating under the Kalakshetra Foundation. Police said a criminal case was booked against him on a sexual harassment complaint from a former woman student of the institution.

A senior police officer confirmed that immediately after the registration of case, he went absconding on his return from Hyderabad and his mobile phone was also found switched off. “However, we have secured him. Further interrogation will be conducted with him before producing before a court for remand.”

The officer added that only one person has been arrested based on a lone complaint. No others had preferred any complaint in connection with the ongoing allegations of harassment case, he said.

Last week, the students of the Kalakshetra Foundation carried out protests demanding the dismissal of four staff members, who have been accused of inappropriate behaviour and sexual abuse. Protesting students alleged that the current and former students had faced sexual and verbal harassment for a long time by Assistant Professor Hari Padman and three other repertory assistants.

On Friday night, All Women Police, Adyar, registered a case against Hari Padman based on a complaint from the woman student who had studied from 2015 to 2019 and discontinued later.

Hari Padman, one of the four people who have been accused of sexual harassment at the institution was booked by All Women Police, Adyar under 354-A (Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment) of IPC and provisions of TN Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act. Police also recorded the statements of five other students who are in Kerala.

CJI Chandrachud approves fresh guidelines on engaging services of law clerks in Supreme Court 

Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud has approved fresh guidelines for engaging the services of law interns for assisting Supreme Court judges in legal research after which they will be paid a consolidated remuneration of ₹80,000 per month.

The top court has come up with a fresh ‘Scheme for Engaging Law Clerk-cum-Research Associates on Short-Term Contractual Assignment in the Supreme Court of India”.

“A Law Clerk will be paid a consolidated remuneration of ₹80,000 per month for the assignment term and there will be no other allowances/perquisites,” the apex court notification said, adding if such persons are given an extension after 12 months of the initial assignment, then “a consolidated remuneration of ₹90,000 per month will be paid for the extended assignment term” without any other allowances or perquisites.

The CJI and other SC judges will be entitled to the services of four Law Clerks out of which the first two shall be selected mandatorily through the selection process of the (apex court) Registry, it said.

The CJI and judges may seek and engage the services of a fifth law clerk subject to the workload, it said. The law clerks prepare a brief summary of fresh cases listed for admission in the apex court.

They also prepare a synopsis of regular hearing matters and note down all the arguments made during the hearing of regular matters where benches are supposed to deliver judgements.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin ousted, conservatives win tight vote 

Finland’s main conservative party claimed victory in a parliamentary election Sunday in an extremely tight three-way race in which right-wing populists took second place, leaving Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party in third, dashing her hopes for re-election.

The center-right National Coalition Party (NCP) claimed victory Sunday evening with all of the votes counted, coming out on top at 20.8%. They were followed by the right-wing populist party The Finns with 20.1%, while the Social Democrats garnered 19.9%.

With the top three parties each getting around 20% of the vote, no party is in position to form a government alone. Over 2,400 candidates from 22 parties were vying for the 200 seats in the Nordic country’s parliament.

“Based on this result, talks over forming a new government to Finland will be initiated under the leadership of the National Coalition Party,” said the party’s elated leader Petteri Orpo, as he claimed victory surrounded by supporters gathered in a restaurant in the capital, Helsinki.

Marin, who at age 37 is one of Europe’s youngest leaders, has received international praise for her vocal support of Ukraine and her prominent role, along with President Sauli Niinistö, in advocating for Finland’s successful application to join NATO.

The 53-year-old Orpo, Finland’s former finance minister and likely new prime minister, assured that the Nordic country’s solidarity with Kyiv would remain strong during his tenure.

“First to Ukraine: we stand by you, with you,” Orpo told the Associated Press at NCP’s victory event. “We cannot accept this terrible war. And we will do all that is needed to help Ukraine, the Ukrainian people because they fight for us. This is clear.”

“And the message to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is: go away from Ukraine because you will lose,” Orpo said. Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, cleared the last hurdles of becoming a NATO member earlier in the week as alliance members Turkey and Hungary signed off the country’s membership bid.

NCP’s share of votes translates into 48 seats in the Eduskunta, Finland’s Parliament, while The Finns, a nationalist party running largely on an anti-immigration and anti-European Union agenda, is to get 46 seats and Marin’s Social Democrats 43 seats respectively.

Observers say the result means a power shift in Finland’s political scene as the nation is now likely to get a new center-right government with nationalist tones. The government will replace the center-left Cabinet with Marin, a highly popular prime minister at home and abroad since 2019.

Government formation talks led by the NCP are expected to start in the coming days with the goal of putting together a Cabinet enjoying a majority at the Parliament.

“I trust the Finnish tradition of negotiating with all parties, and trying to find the best possible majority government for Finland,” Orpo told the AP.

“And you know what is important for us? It’s that we are an active member of the European Union. We build up NATO-Finland, and we fix our economy. We boost our economic growth and create new jobs. These are the crucial, main, important issues we have to write into the government program,” he said.

The positions of Marin’s party on the Finnish economy emerged as a main campaign theme and were challenged by conservatives, who remain critical of the Social Democrats’ economic policies and are unlikely to partner with them.

Orpo had hammered on Finland’s growing government debt and the need to make budget cuts throughout the election. NCP is open to cooperation with The Finns as the two parties largely share the same views on developing Finland’s economy though have differences in climate policies and EU issues.

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland to seek NATO membership in May 2022, neither the historic decision to abandon the nation’s non-alignment policy nor the war emerged as major campaign issues as there was a large consensus on the membership among parties complete with high public support. Finland, which is expected to join NATO in the coming weeks, is a European Union member with a population of 5.5 million.

In Brief: 

Philanthropist and art collector Kiran Nadar was recently conferred ‘Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur’ (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain. The highest French civilian award comes in recognition of Nadar’s outstanding contribution in the field of art, her commitment to providing greater access to culture both nationally and internationally, and her leading role in fostering Indo-French cultural ties. Nadar, chairperson of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) -- a philanthropic initiative in art -- and a trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation has played a vital role in advancing Indo-French cultural ties, and artistic cooperation.

Evening Wrap will return tomorrow.

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