Rahul Gandhi’s appeal against the Surat Sessions Court’s order, which refused to stay his conviction in a criminal defamation case, will now be heard by a new judge of the Gujarat High Court. As per the cause list released on Thursday, Justice Hemant Prachchhak will hear Gandhi’s appeal on April 29.
On April 26, when Gandhi’s lawyer, P. S. Champaneri, mentioned the case before Justice Gita Gopi, she recused herself from the hearing, saying, “Not before me.” The development came a day after Gandhi moved the High Court.
Rahul Gandhi, the former Congress president, was sentenced to two years in jail by a metropolitan magistrate’s court in Surat on March 23, after he was convicted under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500 (criminal defamation) in a 2019 case filed by Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Gujarat MLA Purnesh Modi.
Following the verdict, Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as a Member of Parliament (MP) under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act. He challenged the order in a session court in Surat, along with an application seeking a stay to the conviction. However, while granting him bail, the court on April 20 refused to stay the conviction.
Purnesh Modi filed a criminal defamation case against Gandhi over his `How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?’ remark made during an election rally at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019.
A stay to the conviction could pave the way for Gandhi’s reinstatement as a Member of Parliament.
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