Defamation Case: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has moved to the Gujarat High Court after his plea to suspend his conviction in a criminal defamation case was rejected by a lower court.
In the case, Gandhi had made remarks about the surname of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If the order is frozen, it could lead to his reinstatement as a Member of Parliament.
Gandhi was disqualified last month when he received a two-year jail term, which is the maximum sentence for criminal defamation and is enough to disqualify an MP from holding office.
According to the law, if an MP is convicted of an offense and sentenced to two years or more, their seat will be declared vacant. An MP can only continue to serve if their conviction is suspended.
Although Rahul Gandhi argued that the trial court had treated him unfairly due to his status as an MP during his appeal to the Surat court earlier this month, the judge, Robin Mongera, disagreed.
The court did not find evidence to support Gandhi's claim that failing to stay his conviction and deny him the opportunity to contest the election would cause him irreversible harm.
The court stressed the importance of high moral standards expected from someone of Gandhi's stature and cited a Supreme Court ruling that decisions to stay conviction should be exercised cautiously and not in a casual or mechanical manner that could undermine public confidence in the judiciary.
During his appeal to the Surat court earlier this month, Rahul Gandhi had argued that he had been treated unfairly by the trial court and that their judgment was heavily influenced by his status as an MP.
Judge Robin Mongera, however, did not agree with Rahul Gandhi's argument. The judge stated that Gandhi had been unable to prove that not staying the conviction and denying him the opportunity to contest the election would result in irreversible and irreparable damage to him.
During the campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Rahul Gandhi had made a remark targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his last name, which he shares with fugitive businessmen Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi.
Rahul Gandhi had said, "How can all thieves have the common surname Modi."
The BJP alleged that the remark was an insult to the entire Modi community, and a party leader from Gujarat, Purnesh Modi, filed a defamation case against Rahul Gandhi.