India’s Supreme Court Denies Conviction of Rahul Gandhi of Defamation Case

India’s Supreme Court Denies Conviction of Rahul Gandhi of Defamation Case

An Indian court in the western state of Gujarat has denied Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s petition to suspend his conviction in a defamation case, deepening the uncertainty of whether he will be able to contest in the upcoming election in 2021.

He was found guilty of making defamatory remarks against PM Modi and other people with the same surname, leading to his conviction last month by a state legislator from the BJP.

Gandhi was sentenced to two years in prison by the district court in Surat city for his 2019 remarks about two Indian businessmen, both of whom share the surname Modi, who were fugitives at the time.

On Thursday, Naishadh Desai, a lawyer and a Congress leader, declared to the press that the Surat court had not issued a stay of conviction against Gandhi.

“We will challenge the decision in Gujarat High Court tomorrow [Friday]. We have full faith that the judiciary will uphold justice and save the democracy,” he asserted.

Gandhi’s jail sentence was put on hold following Thursday’s ruling, allowing him to pursue all legal avenues to contest his conviction.

In March, Gandhi was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for commenting about Modi, resulting in losing his parliamentary seat.

According to the legal framework in India, any politician who has been convicted of a crime and given a sentence of at least two years in prison will be automatically disqualified from holding any public office.

If a court does not overturn Gandhi’s conviction and two-year sentence, he will be barred from running in elections for the next eight years.

The Senior Congress leader and Supreme Court lawyer, Jairam Ramesh, declared that the party would use all possible legal means to overturn the conviction of Gandhi. Purnesh Modi, a BJP legislator from Gujarat, lodged a defamation case against Gandhi.

Opponents of Modi widely condemned the prosecution of Gandhi, a great-grandson of India’s first Prime Minister and a family with two other Prime Ministers, as an assault against democracy and free speech.

Indian political parties and experts were taken aback by the swiftness of his expulsion from parliament.


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