Rahul Gandhi to file appeal in Surat court against conviction in defamation case

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will be in Gujarat’s Surat city on Monday to file an appeal in a court against his conviction in a criminal defamation case over his “Modi surname” remarks.

Senior Congress leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, chief ministers of three Congress-ruled states, other national and state party leaders are likely to accompany him to the court, sources said.

Gandhi’s lawyers said the matter is likely to be taken up for hearing by the sessions court on Monday itself.

The Congress leader will seek suspension of his sentence by the sessions court, they said.

Gandhi will land in Surat at around 2 pm, as per the Congress sources.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Congress Rajya Sabha member K C Venugopal and other senior party leaders will also be in Surat.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu are also likely to be in the city as Gandhi moves court, the sources said.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate H H Varma here had on March 23 convicted 52-year-old Gandhi and sentenced him to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his “Modi surname” remarks.

It had held the Congress leader guilty under Indian Penal Code sections 499 and 500.

The court had also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to appeal in a higher court.

The former Congress chief was on March 24 disqualified from the Lok Sabha following his conviction by the Surat court in the case.

Following his disqualification, Gandhi would not be able to contest elections for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction and sentence.

The case was filed against Gandhi on a complaint by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi for the Congress leader’s alleged remarks “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” Gandhi, who had served as an MP from Wayanad in Kerala, made the remarks while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019 during the Lok Sabha elections campaign.

The sentence of two years invited his disqualification from the membership of Parliament under provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The RP Act holds that an MP or a member of legislative Assembly (MLA) convicted for any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of conviction.