Modi Surname Case: Surat Court Holds RaGa Guilty Of Defamation, Setback For Congress

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Modi Surname Case: Surat Court Holds RaGa Guilty Of Defamation, Setback For Congress

| Updated: March 23, 2023 15:49

Surat District Sessions Court, Thursday, convicted Rahul Gandhi for (defamation under Section 499 of IPC) his alleged remark about people with the “Modi surname.” He has been awarded a two-year sentence in jail. The court, however, has granted bail and has set a 30-day deadline for the defendant to process its appeal in the higher court. 

Arguing that the comment did not cause any harm to the person intended to or to society at large, RaGa’s defence counsel contended that the punishment should be not be disproportionate to the offence. “He did not refute the comment but stated that he has always fought against corruption,” his lawyer briefed scribes outside the court. 

On the other hand, the prosecution is believed to have pressed for a larger sentence on grounds that any public figure must set exemplary precedent of conduct and in using derogatory slurs, Gandhi had breached the code. 

Meanwhile, the Congress has cried foul over politics reaching a new low of settling personal scores using the judiciary. 

Rahul Gandhi arrived in Surat, early Thursday morning, to be part of district sessions court’s order in a criminal defamation case against him over his alleged “Modi surname” remark. 

It may be recalled that the case was filed against Rahul Gandhi for his alleged “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” remark. The complaint was lodged by BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi. The complainant claimed that the controversial remark was made at a rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and slurred the entire Modi community.

Rahul Gandhi’s lawyer, Kirit Panwala, has argued that the proceeding was flawed from the beginning as the legal procedure under section 202 of the CrPC was not followed. He also argued that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and not Purnesh Modi, should have been the complainant in the case as an aggrieved party because most of Rahul Gandhi’s speech had targeted the PM.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, H.H. Varma, concluded hearing final arguments from both sides on March 18 and set March 23 as the date to pronounce the judgment. 

The final arguments in the defamation case resumed in February 2023 after the Gujarat High Court vacated the interim stay it had imposed on proceedings in March 2022 on the complainant’s plea demanding the personal appearance of Rahul Gandhi. 

RaGa has been present in the court on three occasions during the hearing of the case. He last appeared in October 2021 to record his statement and pleaded not guilty.

The complainant, Purnesh Modi, had served as a minister in the first term of the Bhupendra Patel government in Gujarat. He was re-elected from the Surat West assembly seat in December 2022 polls. 

The lawyer for the complainant argued that CDs and a pen drive of Rahul Gandhi’s speech prove that he had indeed made the remark at the rally and that his words defamed the Modi community.

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