Modi surname case: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday got relief from Supreme Court after the apex court stayed his conviction in the defamation case over his "Modi surname" remark paving his way to contest elections. Rahul Gandhi had challenged the Gujarat High Court’s July 7 verdict that declined to put on hold his conviction.
A three-judge bench of Justices B R Gavai, P S Narasimha and Sanjay Kumar said no doubt that the utterances were not in good taste and that a person in public life is expected to exercise caution while making public speeches. "No reason has been given by the trial judge for imposing maximum sentence, the order of conviction needs to be stayed pending final adjudication," the bench said.
Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi who appeared for Rahul Gandhi argued, "Complainant Purnesh Modi’s original surname is not 'Modi' and he adopted this surname later. Not a single person Gandhi had named during his speech has sued. This is a small community of 13 crore people and there is no uniformity or homogeneity. Who is aggrieved in this community are only people who are BJP office-holders and are suing."
"My client will be silenced for 8 years. He is not a criminal. BJP karyakartas filed many cases against him but no punishment has been found in any of them. The lower court judge called it a serious crime and has given a punishment of 2 years. But it is not a case of rape, murder or kidnapping," Sighvi argued.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani who is appearing for complainant Purnesh Modi argued that Rshul Gandhi's entire speech spanned over 50 minutes and there is plethora of evidence and clipping of the speech attached in EC's record. Jethmalani says that Rahul Gandhi has defamed an entire class out of malice. Jethmalani said, "His aim was to insult every person of Modi surname because PM's surname is Modi."
Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly refused to apologise for his Modi surname remark that led to his disqualification as an MP but urged the Supreme Court to stay his conviction in the criminal defamation case stemming from his comment, asserting he is not guilty.
The Congress leader was disqualified as a Member of Parliament on March 24 after a Gujarat court convicted him and sentenced him to two-year imprisonment on charges of criminal defamation for comments he made about the Modi surname. The high court had dismissed his petition for a stay on conviction, observing that "purity in politics" is the need of the hour.