A Surat court on Thursday issued summons to Rahul Gandhi in response to a criminal defamation complaint filed by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi alleging that the Congress president had called all the Modis thieves at a public meeting thereby defaming the 13 crore members of the Modi community in the country.
Chief Judicial Magistrate B H Kapadia issued summons to Rahul, and fixed the next date of hearing on June 7.
In his complaint, the BJP MLA from Surat West referred to the April 13 election rally of the Congress at Kolar in Karnataka where Rahul purportedly said, “Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi…how come they all have Modi as common surname. How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?”
The BJP MLA said that Rahul called PM Narendra Modi “chor (thief)” and compared him with economic offenders like Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya, thereby defaming the community.
Two days after Rahul’s purported remark, Purnesh Modi had filed the complaint with Surat CJM court on April 15 under IPC section 499 (defamation) and 500 (criminal defamation punishable with simple imprisonment of up to two years).
While talking to reporters after filing his defamation complaint last month, Purnesh Modi had said, “He (Rahul Gandhi) has defamed the community and also me as I have the same surname. This is why, I have moved a complaint (against Rahul Gandhi).”
Speaking to The Indian Express on Thursday, Purnesh Modi’s lawyer, Hasmukh Lalwala, said, “Rahul Gandhi is an MP. So, the summons will be issued to him through Lok Sabha Speaker. On the next date for hearing, Rahul Gandhi or his lawyer will have to be present in the court.”
This is the third summon issued to Rahul Gandhi by courts in Gujarat. On Wednesday, a court in Ahmedabad issued summons to Rahul in response to a criminal defamation suit filed by a BJP worker for calling BJP chief Amit Shah a “murder accused”.
Last month, another magistrate court in Ahmedabad had issued summons to Rahul and Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in a criminal defamation suit filed by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and its chairman. Amit Shah is a director of the bank. The suit alleged that the Congress leaders had claimed that the bank was involved in a scam to swap Rs 750 crore in scrapped notes with valid currency within five days of demonetisation in 2016.