Indian court rejects Rahul Gandhi’s plea to suspend defamation conviction
A high court in western India rejected Rahul Gandhi’s appeal on Friday for a suspension of his conviction in a defamation case, effectively ending his chances of returning to parliament and running in next year’s elections.
Gandhi can now appeal to a larger bench of the same high court, and if that doesn’t work, he can appeal to the Supreme Court.
Gandhi was convicted in March after comments he made in 2019 were deemed insulting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Modi-named people by Gujarat state lawmaker Purnesh Modi of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“How come all thieves have the name Modi? Several fugitives with the surname Modi were referred to by him.
He was sentenced to two years in prison, but the sentence was suspended and he was granted bail instead. Gandhi is the scion of the Gandhi family, which has given India three prime ministers.
Since lawmakers serving more than two years in prison are automatically disqualified, Gandhi also lost his parliamentary seat following his conviction.
After serving two years in prison, they are also barred from running for public office for six years.
Separately, Gandhi has challenged the conviction in a district court, which has not yet heard the case.
On Friday, Gujarat High Court Judge Hemant Prachchhak ruled that a stay of conviction is not a rule, but rather a rare exception.
“Refusing to stay the conviction would not in any way be unfair to the applicant,” the judge wrote.
Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, there is no reasonable basis to stay the conviction of the applicant.”
The verdict did not elicit an immediate response from Gandhi.
The judgment will be studied, according to Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh. Ramesh tweeted, “the judgment only strengthens our resolve to pursue the matter further.”.