Rahul Gandhi's Plea Seeking Stay On Conviction In Defamation Case Rejected By Surat Court

Surat court says he will remain disqualified as a member of parliament for now.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>File photo of Rahul Gandhi. (Source: Congress website)</p></div>
File photo of Rahul Gandhi. (Source: Congress website)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's plea seeking a stay on conviction in the defamation case was rejected on Thursday by the Surat Sessions court.

Rahul Gandhi will remain disqualified as a member of parliament for now, the court announced.

Gandhi, however, still is on bail and his sentence remains suspended.

"We will continue to avail all options still available to us under the law," Jairam Ramesh, Congress' general secretary in charge of communications, tweeted after the court declined relief.

While pronouncing the order, the court noted that Gandhi has failed to demonstrate that an irreversible and irrevocable damage is likely to be caused to him if a stay is not granted on his conviction, and he's denied an opportunity to contest the election on account of disqualification under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The court added that the Supreme Court has held in a number of cases that the powers accorded under the Criminal Procedure Code to suspend/stay the conviction are required to be exercised with caution and circumspection. "If such power is exercised in a casual and mechanical manner, the same would have serious impact on the public perception on the justice delivery systems and such order will shake public confidence in judiciary".

The order comes on Gandhi's conviction in a criminal defamation case over his "Modi surname" remark. The complainant is Gujarat MLA Purnesh Modi, who accused Gandhi of insulting the entire OBC community by likening them to fugitives like Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi while speaking at Kolar in 2019.

Gandhi was convicted on March 23 following which he was disqualified from the Lok Sabha. He was also asked to vacate the official bungalow allotted to him as an MP by April 22.

The Congress leader's lawyers had filed two applications, one seeking a stay on the sentence and allow bail till the disposal of his appeal. And another for a stay on his conviction till the appeal is disposed of.

The court heard both parties on April 13 and reserved the verdict for April 20.