Defamation case: ‘Rahul didn’t commit any heinous crime’, counsel tells court

Ahmedabad, April 29 (IANS) The Gujarat High Court on Saturday, while hearing the revision plea filed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi seeking a stay on his conviction in a defamation case, observed that “he must be mindful of the statements he makes and keep them within limits”, even as his counsel submitted in court that the former Congress president did not commit any heinous crime.
Rahul Gandhi’s counsel, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi — also a Congress leader, argued in the court that his client had not committed any heinous crime or an offence involving moral turpitude, which are the two tests for denying suspension of conviction.
Rahul Gandhi’s case for a stay on his conviction in a criminal defamation case continues in the Gujarat High Court. The case stems from a 2019 rally in Kolar, Karnataka, where Rahul Gandhi had said: “Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi. How come all the thieves have ‘Modi’ as a common surname?”
This remark led to a criminal defamation case being filed against him by Surat BJP legislator, Purnesh Modi.
Singhvi also argued that the defamation suit itself was not maintainable and questioned the locus of the complainant, Purnesh Modi, in filing the complaint.
He pointed out that only those actually named by Rahul Gandhi could file a criminal defamation case, but none of them had lodged a complaint.
Singhvi also submitted that no evidence was presented under the Evidence Act or Information Technology Act to justify the criminal defamation proceedings.
He explained that in the case of a speech, there must be a witness who heard that, and can authenticate it. “But in this case, none of the witnesses fit into this category,” Singhvi said.
Singhvi also argued that all the cases relied upon by the trial court to convict Rahul Gandhi involved grave and heinous offences like rape and murder but even in those cases, the conviction was stayed.
He maintained that Gandhi’s case of alleged criminal defamation at the first appeal stage did not fall under the category of moral turpitude or serious offences and was, in fact, a bailable offence not against society at large.
Referring to the Sessions Court order refusing to stay the conviction, Singhvi argued that it would cause an irreversible loss to Gandhi and his electorate of Wayanad in Kerala, from where he was elected to the Lok Sabha.
He added that if the conviction was not stayed, Gandhi would lose 8 years of his political career, standing disqualified for a virtually semi-permanent period.
The hearing will continue on May 2, and the court will deliver its order on the same day.

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