Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was sentenced to two years imprisonment by a local court in Gujarat’s Surat on March 23, 3023, in a criminal defamation case filed against him over his remark on the “Modi surname” that he had allegedly made during campaigning for 2019 parliamentary polls. He was granted bail.
The sessions court in Surat soon suspended the sentence for 30 days, so that Mr. Gandhi can appeal in a higher court. The court has given bail to him on ₹10,000 bond.
Mr. Gandhi was present at the court when the judge passed the verdict.
The criminal defamation case was filed against him by Surat BJP MLA Purnesh Modi, who was earlier president of Surat city BJP.
In his complaint, Mr. Purnesh Modi alleged that Mr. Gandhi while addressing a poll rally in 2019 in Karnataka defamed the entire Modi community by saying “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?”
The Chief Judicial Magistrate H.H. Varma had last week concluded hearing final arguments from both sides and set March 23 to pronounce its judgment in the four-year-old defamation case.
Mr Gandhi had last appeared before the Surat court regarding the case, filed under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500 (dealing with defamation), in October 2021 to record his statement.
In the midst of parliamentary polls in 2019, Mr. Purnesh Modi, in April, filed the case against Mr. Gandhi. He alleged that the latter, while addressing a poll rally in Karnataka on April 13, 2019, defamed the entire Modi community by saying “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?”
The Congress party reacted to the developments, tweeting that its leader would appeal in the matter and that Mr. Gandhi was “raising his voice against the dictator”.
The tweet says that the “dictator is horrified by his courage” and is using the ED, police and cases to intimidate Mr. Gandhi, reiterating a view held by many opposition parties that the Centre is using various agencies to target opposition leaders.