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Surat, April 20 – The sessions court in Surat on Thursday dismissed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s plea seeking suspension of his conviction in the defamation case that led to his disqualification from Parliament.
The court had convicted Gandhi on March 23 for his remarks made during an election rally in Kolar in April 2019, where he had said that “all people with the Modi surname are thieves”.
The court sentenced him to two years in prison and he was disqualified as a member of Lok Sabha the next day.
Rahul Gandhi’s lawyers had filed two applications, one for bail till the disposal of his appeal and another for suspension of his conviction until the appeal is decided.
Senior advocate R.S. Cheema, appearing for the Congress leader, argued that only an aggrieved person could file a defamation complaint as per the law, while also pointing out that the speech was not defamatory until it was taken out of context.
The case was filed by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi, who had claimed that Rahul Gandhi’s statement had defamed all the people with the Modi surname.
The court had found Rahul Gandhi guilty under IPC Sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation).
He had claimed that the trial court treated him harshly because of his status as an MP.
Cheema also questioned the Surat court’s jurisdiction, pointing out that the speech was made in Kolar.
The court rejected Rahul Gandhi’s plea, which means that he cannot be reinstated as an MP.
It also imposed the maximum punishment permissible under the law, and Rahul Gandhi’s punishment could not have been even a day less to allow him to retain his seat as an MP.