On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi was convicted in the 2019 criminal defamation case regarding his alleged ‘Modi surname’ remarks by Surat District Court.
Although Rahul was sentenced to two years in prison, he was subsequently granted bail, and the sentence was suspended for 30 days, giving the Congress leader the opportunity to challenge the decision in a higher court.
What did Rahul Gandhi say?
On March 23, 2023, the Surat District Court declared Rahul Gandhi guilty of criminal defamation in the 2019 case related to his alleged ‘Modi surname’ comments. Gandhi received a two-year jail sentence, but he was subsequently granted bail, and the sentence was suspended for 30 days to allow him to appeal the verdict in a higher court.
During a rally in Kolar, Karnataka, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul had reportedly made a statement, “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” while referring to Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi.
BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi filed a complaint against the Congress leader, claiming that Gandhi’s comments had “defamed” the entire Modi community. The case was filed under IPC sections 499, 500 (for criminal defamation), and 504.
A timeline of the case
In October 2021, Rahul Gandhi made an appearance before the Surat court to record his statement in the defamation case.
After the Gujarat High Court lifted the stay on the proceedings, which was imposed on a plea by the complainant seeking Rahul’s personal appearance, the final arguments in the case resumed last month.
Modi’s lawyer argued that the CDs and pen drives containing materials on Rahul’s Kolar speech established that the Congress leader had indeed made the remark on the Modi surname, thus defaming the entire community.
The Congress MP’s lawyer contended that the court proceedings were “flawed” since the procedure under section 202 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) was not followed. This section pertains to the postponement of the issue of the process.
Rahul’s lawyer argued that the complainant should have been PM Narendra Modi and not Purnesh Modi since the PM was the primary target of Rahul’s speech.