Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday moved a Surat court against his conviction in a defamation case and said that he was “treated harshly at the stage of determination of sentence taking into account his position as Member of Parliament” and that the maximum sentence has caused him “irreparable loss”.
In his appeal before the Surat district and sessions court against his two-year conviction, Gandhi also stated it seemed “reasonable to argue” that the maximum sentence awarded to him was to “attract the order of disqualification (as an MP)”.
“Not only is the excessive sentence contrary to the law on the subject but is also unwarranted in the present case which has overriding political overtones,” the appeal says. Terming the conviction “erroneous”, the appeal states that the “material on which it based has not been proved in accordance with law”.
Gandhi’s appeal argues that the disqualification of an elected representative “essentially interferes with the choice of the electorate in a free and fair election” and that a by-election would cause an “enormous burden on the state exchequer”.
In his appeal, seeking suspension of the sentence and bail, Gandhi pointed out that the punishment of two years of simple imprisonment “is very harsh in view of the fact that the lower court has inflicted the same for a single defamatory imputation as to ‘why all the thieves have surname Modi'”.
Among the grounds stated for the appeal, his application says that the complainant/respondent Purnesh Modi “is not the person aggrieved of the offence and has no right to file the complaint” and that the mandatory inquiry under Section 202 of CrPC to be held before summons are issued to the accused “of outside the jurisdiction of the court is not held”.