TEN DAYS AFTER a Surat court convicted him in a defamation case over his 2019 remark about the surname Modi and sentenced him to two years in prison, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will file an appeal on Monday seeking a stay on his conviction.
Gandhi’s lawyer will move the sessions court in Surat and the Congress expects the court will take up the matter on Monday itself. The party is hopeful the court will stay his conviction, which will open the doors for revocation of his disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP.
Sources said Gandhi will be present in the court Monday and several senior leaders, including AICC General Secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Digvijaya Singh and Anand Sharma would accompany him. Bhupesh Baghel and Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, the Chief Ministers of Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh, could also accompany him, they said.
The appeal, “supervised, controlled and advised” by Rajya Sabha MP and senior lawyer Abhishek Singhvi and to be filed by senior lawyer R S Cheema, will seek a stay on the conviction. The appeal is against the March 23 order by Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Verma which held Gandhi guilty in the defamation case over his remark about Modi surname in 2019.
Rahul Gandhi’s lawyer in Gujarat Kirit Panwala said, “We are going to file the appeal on Monday at the Surat Sessions court against the lower CJM court verdict in a defamation case against Rahul Gandhi. Gandhi will be present in the court and the legal team of Congress party from Delhi too will be present.”
On March 23, while convicting Gandhi, the court suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal and approved bail on a surety of Rs 15,000.
A day after, Gandhi was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha. Later, the House Committee of the Lok Sabha chaired by BJP MP C R Patil issued him a notice to vacate the 12, Tughlaq Lane bungalow.
The case against Gandhi was over his remark “Why do all thieves have the name Modi?” He made the remark on April 13, 2019, during an election rally in Kolar in Karnataka. His conviction and subsequent disqualification have triggered a major political firestorm with the Congress and the BJP attacking each other, the entire Opposition protesting it, and Parliament witnessing stormy scenes.