Earlier this year in April, at a Lok Sabha election campaign rally at Kolar in Karnataka, former Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had publically remarked,
“Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi… how come they all have Modi as common surname? How come all thieves have Modi as common surname?”
His statements made at a political rally has ended him up in a case of defamation. With regards to the statement made by Gandhi at the campaign rally, a local BJP MLA by the name Purnesh Modi filed a complaint under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code [IPC] including sections 499 and 500, relating to the offence criminal defamation. The main allegation set out in the complaint of the BJP legislator from Surat-West was that the said statement of the Congress leader has brought bad name and defamed the entire Modi community.
Post the filing of the complaint, there have been multiple statements from the top congressional leadership in support of Rahul Gandhi. Shakti singh Gohil, a congress leader had remarked that the people in power should develop the habit of tolerating criticism by the opposition. He justified the intention behind the statement of Rahul Gandhi saying that he meant that Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi are thieves while the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a failure. He sees it as an overreach to connect the casual statement with the entire Modi community and treat it as an insult. Ahmed Patel, another senior party leader has supported Gandhi by saying that law shall take its own course.
Rahul pleads ‘Not Guilty’:
In connection with the said case, the former party leader recently had to appear before the court of chief judicial magistrate- B.H. Kapadia in Surat. While admitting the suit, the magisterial court held that on the face of it, prime facie, this does look like a case of criminal defamation against the Member of Parliament of Lok Sabha from Wayand. In the proceedings, he has pleaded not guilty to the case filed against him on the counts of criminal defamation for a remark made by him earlier this year. Apart from clearly pleading not guilty, the counsels of Gandhi filed an exemption plea, praying for allowing an exemption from personal appearances throughout the year. This was actively opposed by the lawyers representing Modi and thus the court has set to decide upon the exemption plea on December 10 this year. However, the court did exempt the personal appearance of Gandhi on the next date of hearing. Even in the previous hearings on this matter, Gandhi’s personal appearances have been exempted by the court. However, on the hearing set on October 10, the congress party was fully prepped up for Gandhi’s personal appearance before the surat court. Amit Chavda , who is the Gujarat Congress President said that the party and its workers are prepared for Rahul Gandhi’s court appearance.
“Rahulji will be accorded a grand welcome by our party workers on the entire route from the airport to the court,” he had said earlier.
‘Desperate attempt to silence me’, says Rahul
Right before the hearing Mr. Gandhi tweeted saying that he is to appear in Surat for a defamation case by his political opponents. He saw this move as one to ‘desperate to silence’ him. He also expressed his gratitude for the support and solidarity of the Congress party and its workers who stood with him in the matter.
However, this does not seem to be the last court proceedings Rahul is facing this month. The former Congress leader will also be in attendance at another similar court hearing in Ahmedabad later this week. The complainant in the said case is also a RSS-BJP karyakarta.
Earlier this year, post his step-down from the post of Congress party leader, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, he had to go through critical censure for scheduling his trips to abroad right ahead of assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra on October 21. Though the congress has not revealed the details of the trip for which he was targeted by the BJP, he has defended himself remarking that a line of difference between public and private life must be maintained, saying that there is no need to drag the private life of a person, it should be respected in politics.
Later this month, Gandhi is set to address two public rallies in Haryana and Maharashtra. He has also scheduled to address the election meetings on October 13 in Maharashtra and on October 14 and in Haryana.