Rahul Gandhi to file appeal against conviction in defamation case on Monday

New Delhi: Putting an end to all speculation, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will be in Surat on Monday to challenge his conviction and sentencing in the Surat sessions court. He will ask for the sessions court to set aside the magistrate’s order convicting him in the defamation case. He will also ask for an interim stay on the conviction till the matter is finally disposed of, his lawyer Kirit Panwala informed reporters.

Unless Mr Gandhi’s conviction is put on hold by a higher court, the Election Commission will announce a special election for the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat. He will also not be allowed to contest elections for the next eight years.

The court of chief judicial magistrate in Surat H.H. Varma on March 23 convicted Mr Gandhi and sentenced him to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his remarks over the “Modi surname”. It had held Mr Gandhi, 52, guilty under Indian Penal Code Sections 499 and 500.The court had also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days in order to enable him to appeal to a higher court. Mr Gandhi was present in the court when it pronounced the verdict in the case. A day later, the former Congress chief was on March 24 disqualified from the Lok Sabha following his conviction by the Surat court.

Mr Gandhi’s conviction and subsequent disqualification from the Lok Sabha has stirred up a political storm in the country. Taking to the streets, Congress workers claimed that Mr Gandhi was being treated harshly as he was asking tough questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Several legal experts, though respectfully, did not agree with the judgment of the Surat court.

The Congress is fighting the battle on two fronts -- politically as well as legally. The party has held satyagrahas in most state capitals. Almost all the Opposition parties had got together and supported Mr Gandhi. The issue was sought to be raised in both Houses of Parliament, but since the Houses did not function due to repeated adjournments it could not be raised. However, protests had continued both inside and outside Parliament.

Days after his disqualification, Mr Gandhi was served a notice to vacate his official bungalow in New Delhi’s Lutyens’ Zone as he was no longer entitled to it. The BJP has called the move lawful, and questioned if Mr Rahul Gandhi considered himself to be above the law. The ruling party has also attacked Mr Gandhi for his remark, terming it an intentional insult to the entire OBC community. It has launched a mega campaign, led by its OBC ministers, over Mr Gandhi's remark.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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