Defamation case: Supreme Court to hear on Friday Rahul Gandhi’s plea against Guj HC refusal to stay conviction

Defamation case: Supreme Court to hear on Friday Rahul Gandhi’s plea against Guj HC refusal to stay conviction

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Rahul-Gandhi

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) The Supreme Court is slated to hear on Friday the plea filed by former Congress President Rahul Gandhi against the Gujarat High Court's verdict denying a stay on his conviction in the ‘Modi surname' defamation case.

As per the cause list published on the apex court website, a bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra will hear Gandhi’s plea against the High Court’s order refusing to stay his conviction and two-year jail term in a criminal defamation case, which cost the Congress leader his Lok Sabha membership.

In anticipation, Purnesh Modi, a BJP MLA and the complainant in the defamation case against Gandhi, had submitted a caveat, requesting for a chance to present his case. A caveat serves as a notice submitted to an appellate court by a litigant who wishes to be heard in case any orders are issued regarding an opponent's appeal that challenges the decision or judgment made by the lower court.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday had agreed to hear Gandhi's plea on July 21 after senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for  Gandhi, sought urgent listing of the matter.

He had requested the top court to list the matter either on Friday or next Monday and the court had agreed to list the matter for hearing on Friday. On July 15, the Congress leader had approached the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat High Court’s order where a bench of Justice Hemant Prachchhak had observed that granting a stay on his conviction would be an exception, and not a rule.

Gandhi was disqualified as a Member of Parliament in March, after a Surat court convicted him and sentenced him to two years in prison for his "How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname" remark made during an election rally in Karnataka in April 2019. The remark was interpreted as an attempt to draw an implicit connection between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and fugitive businessmen Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi.

In March, the sessions court in Surat had dismissed Rahul Gandhi's plea seeking suspension of his conviction by the magistrate court, stating that his disqualification will not result in an irreversible loss to him.

According to legal experts, if the top court stays Rahul Gandhi's conviction, it would be sufficient to restore his Lok Sabha membership. The Congress leader was disqualified under a rule that bars convicted MPs from holding Lok Sabha membership.

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