Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi today filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat High Court’s refusal to stay his conviction in the criminal defamation case over his ‘Modi surname’ remark, which led to his disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP earlier this year.
Mr Gandhi was disqualified as a Member of Parliament on March 24, 2023 after a Gujarat court convicted him and sentenced him to two-years in jail on charges of criminal defamation for 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 on Mr Gandhi’s conviction could pave the way for his reinstatement as a Lok Sabha MP. However, he has not received any relief from either the sessions court or the Gujarat High Court.
The complainant, BJP MLA Purnesh Modi, had earlier filed a caveat in the Supreme Court seeking that he be heard if the Congress leader moves a plea challenging the high court verdict.
The high court had dismissed Mr Gandhi’s appeal, saying “it is now the need of the hour to have purity in politics”. It also noted that the representatives of the people should be “men of clear antecedent” and that a stay on conviction is not a rule, but an exception resorted to only in rare cases and there was no reasonable ground to stay his conviction.
“Rahul Gandhi is seeking a stay on conviction on absolutely non-existent grounds,” the court added, observing that refusal to stay the conviction would not in any way result in injustice to the applicant.
53-year-old Rahul Gandhi, elected to the Lok Sabha from Wayanad in Kerala in 2019, was disqualified as a Member of Parliament under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act after a metropolitan magistrate’s court in Surat sentenced him to two years in jail after convicting him under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500 (criminal defamation).
There are 10 cases pending against Rahul Gandhi. A complaint has also been filed against him by the grandson of Veer Savarkar in Pune Court after Gandhi used terms against Veer Savarkar at Cambridge.