The sessions court will hear the matter on April 13
New Delhi/Surat: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi got some relief as he appeared before the Surat sessions court on Monday. He was granted bail and his two-year jail sentence will remain suspended till his appeal is disposed of. He had also filed an appeal against his conviction in a criminal defamation case. The court of additional sessions judge R.P. Mogera said it will hear his plea for suspension of conviction on April 13, after issuing a notice to complainant Purnesh Modi, a BJP MLA and former Gujarat Cabinet minister. The sessions court asked the respondent (Purnesh Modi) to file his reply by April 10.
“We had filed an application for Rahul Gandhi’s bail and suspension of sentence along with his appeal against the conviction by a lower court. The (sessions) court heard the matter and granted him bail. The court kept the matter for hearing on the stay of his conviction for April 13,” a member of his legal team told reporters. This means the matter will be heard again on April 13. In the meantime, his disqualification as a member of the Lok Sabha will continue. Mr Rahul Gandhi need not be present in court on April 13.
The case was filed against Rahul Gandhi on a complaint by Purnesh Modi over the 52-year-old Congressman’s remark: “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” The disqualified MP made the “Modi surname” comment while addressing a rally at Kolar, Karnataka, on April 13, 2019, while campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Gandhi was accompanied by his sister and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states. Mr Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan, Mr Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh and Mr Sukhwinder Sukhu of Himachal Pradesh, along with other leaders of the party, were in Surat to show solidarity with Mr Rahul Gandhi.
Earlier in the morning, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi also visited Rahul Gandhi at his residence. The Congress alleged that the Gujarat police was not allowing party workers to come to Surat to show solidarity with their leader. Party cadres were also present outside the residence of Mr Gandhi to show solidarity with him.
Union law minister Kiren Rijiju dubbed the Congress leaders’ move to accompany Mr Gandhi to the court as the “sycophancy of one family”, he wondered whether the family was above the country. He added: “My point is very simple -- why is the Congress Party trying to put this kind of undue pressure on the judiciary. There are means and ways to deal with judicial matters. But is this the way?” Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday dismissed as “absurd” the BJP’s charge that his party had exerted “undue pressure” on the judiciary as its leaders accompanied Rahul Gandhi to court.
He said: “That is an absurd allegation. First of all, who attends the court is not a source of pressure. If at all there is a source of pressure on the judiciary, I think we can all guess where that is likely to come from”.