Modi surname case: Rahul Gandhi challenges conviction in Supreme Court

Gandhi can’t context next year’s Lok Sabha polls if his conviction is not overturned

NEW DELHI | Updated: 15 July, 2023 5:37 pm IST
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has taken his legal battle to the Supreme Court following the recent Gujarat High Court ruling that declined to stay his conviction in the Modi surname case which resulted in his disqualification from parliament.

His petition before the apex court comes a week after Gujarat High Court dismissed his plea challenging a lower court’s order convicting him of defamation in a case filed by a BJP leader over his controversial remark surrounding PM Narendra Modi’s surname.

Earlier this year, a court in Gujarat’s Surat convicted the former Congress president and handed him a two year jail term in the criminal defamation case filed against him for his 2019 ‘why all thieves have Modi surname?’ remark.

The conviction renders Gandhi unable to contest the next year’s Lok Sabha elections when PM Modi seeks re-election for a third consecutive term.

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In its order on July 7, the Gujarat High Court said that the Gandhi scion had “breached modesty” and that his offense involved “moral turpitude.”

Justice Hemant P Prachchhak, rejecting Gandhi’s criminal revision application seeking a stay on his conviction, said, “The present conviction is a serious matter affecting a large segment of society and needs to be viewed by this court with the gravity and significance it commands… It is now the need of the hour to have purity in politics. Representatives of people should be men of clear antecedent.”

In its 125-page judgment, the court emphasized that as a member of parliament Gandhi had a “bounden duty not to scandalize any person from society”.

ALSO READ: Setback for Rahul Gandhi in Modi surname defamation case

Though he can’t be arrested since his jail term is suspended, Gandhi’s suspension from the Lok Sabha remains effective until the conviction is overturned by the Supreme Court or a favorable judgment in his appeal by a sessions court.

According to the law, Gandhi’s conviction and two-year jail term make him ineligible to enter either House of Parliament for a period of eight years.

In the judgment, the court also noted that Gandhi has 10 criminal cases pending against him, including one filed by the grandson of VD Savarkar in a Pune court over the Congress leader’s controversial remarks on Savarkar at Cambridge University.

Meanwhile, Congress leader and former Union minister Abhishek Manu Shinghvi has said that the criminal cases are being filed against Gandhi at the behest of the ruling BJP as part of its vendetta politics.

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