The Gujarat High Court has said that it is likely to conclude the hearing on Rahul Gandhi’s plea for a stay on the conviction order by a lower court in the surname defamation case on Tuesday. Congress leader Rahul had sought a stay on his conviction by a Magistrate court in Surat, which had said on April 20 that Rahul’s disqualification as Member of Parliament (MP) would not amount to be an irreparable or an irreversible loss to him and refused interim relief to him.
Rahul was convicted by the Surat court on March 23 for his remark “all thieves have Modi surname” which he had made at an election rally in Karnataka’s Kolar in 2019. He was sentenced to simple imprisonment for two years.
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Rahul was represented by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who argued that there was no “identifiable class” to maintain the complaint. “The offence is neither of serious nature nor of moral turpitude, which are two tests for denying, in a relevant case, to suspend conviction,” Singhvi told the court of Justice Hemant Prachchhak.
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On April 26, a day after Rahul moved the Gujarat High Court, Justice Gita Gopi recused herself from the hearing. Rahul had to move the Gujarat HC after a lower court in Surat on April 20 rejected his plea seeking a stay on the conviction. “If such power is exercised in a casual and mechanical manner, the same would have a serious impact on the public perception on the justice delivery systems and such order will shake public confidence in judiciary,” the court of Additional Sessions Judge Robin Mogera had said.
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Rahul, in his plea before the HC, is seeking a stay on his conviction on the grounds of disproportionate punishment and that such conviction has caused him irreversible harm by way of losing his Lok Sabha membership.
On March 23, a Surat magistrate court had sentenced Rahul to two years of simple imprisonment in a criminal defamation complaint filed by Surat West MLA Purnesh Modi over Gandhi’s “why do all thieves have the name Modi” remark made during an election rally at Kolar in Karnataka in 2019.
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