Gujarat High Court Judge Opts Out of Hearing Rahul Gandhi’s Appeal in Defamation Case

On April 26th, a judge at the Gujarat High Court withdrew from presiding over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s appeal. Gandhi was challenging the decision of the Surat sessions court, which refused to stay his conviction in a criminal defamation case related to his comment about the “Modi surname.”

P.S. Champaneri, the legal representative of Rahul Gandhi, requested an urgent hearing for the case before Justice Gita Gopi. However, the court declined the request after a brief hearing, stating, “Not before me.” This incident occurred one day after Gandhi submitted his appeal to the High Court.

udge Opts Out of Hearing Rahul Gandhi’s Appeal in Defamation Case

According to Mr. Champaneri, the court initially allowed him to circulate the matter for Wednesday’s hearing. However, when the case was brought up for consideration, the court withdrew from the proceedings. As a result, a message will be sent to the Acting Chief Justice, requesting that the case be assigned to another court, Mr. Champaneri confirmed.

Mr. Champaneri stated that the case was presented before Justice Gita Gopi’s court since it deals with criminal revision matters.

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In a case filed by Gujarat BJP MLA Purnesh Modi in 2019, a metropolitan magistrate’s court in Surat found former Congress president guilty under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500, which pertain to criminal defamation. As a result, on March 23, the court sentenced him to two years in prison.

After the verdict, Mr. Gandhi, who was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) from Wayanad in Kerala in 2019, was disqualified under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act.

Mr. Gandhi filed an appeal in the Surat sessions court, challenging the order and requesting a suspension of his conviction. On April 20, the court granted him bail but dismissed his request for a stay on the conviction.

During an election rally in Kolar, Karnataka on April 13, 2019, Mr. Gandhi made a statement, “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” This remark led to BJP MLA and former Cabinet Minister Purnesh Modi filing a criminal defamation case against him.

If a stay order is granted, it could lead to the reinstatement of Mr. Gandhi as a Member of Parliament. Presently, Mr. Gandhi is out on bail in the case.