The Gujarat High Court on Friday, July 7th, declined to suspend the conviction of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in the criminal defamation case filed against him regarding his 2019 “Modi surname” comment. The court also dismissed his plea against the conviction, affirming that the previous decision of the Sessions court, which denied halting the conviction, was fair and lawful.
Previously, on Thursday, April 20th, a Sessions Court in Surat had rejected Rahul Gandhi’s request for a stay on his conviction. The Surat Magistrate court had convicted him on March 23rd in a criminal defamation case and sentenced him to two years in jail for his remark made during an election rally in Kolar in April 2019, where he allegedly said, “all people with Modi surname are thieves.” Consequently, he was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha the following day.
During the verdict announcement on Friday, Justice Hemant Prachchhak stated that Rahul Gandhi’s plea for a stay on conviction was based on nonexistent grounds. He clarified that stay on conviction is not a rule and highlighted that there are ten pending cases against Gandhi, emphasizing the importance of maintaining purity in politics.
Although stays in such cases are uncommon, the High Court stressed that Gandhi would not face any injustice if the conviction were not suspended. Nevertheless, the court emphasized the urgency of determining the criminal appeal based on its own merits.