Published on: 3 August 2023 at 10:45 IST
Rahul Gandhi has reaffirmed his innocence in the ongoing Modi-surname defamation case through a recent affidavit filed with the Supreme Court.
In response to the complainant’s allegation of arrogance and refusal to apologize for his “why all thieves share Modi surname” remark, Gandhi stated that he is not guilty of the offense and that the conviction is unsustainable.
He asserted that if he had to apologize and compound the alleged offense, he would have done so earlier.
Gandhi’s new affidavit comes as a rejoinder to the counter-affidavit filed by the complainant, BJP MLA Purnesh Ishwarbhai Modi, who opposes the suspension of Gandhi’s conviction.
Criminal defamation is at the heart of the case, and Gandhi contended that it is not an offense involving moral turpitude.
He pointed out that defamation is just one of the 22 offenses under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and attracts only simple imprisonment, making it a non-grave offense.
Additionally, it is bailable, non-cognizable, and compoundable.
Therefore, Gandhi urged the Court to consider these factors when deciding to stay his conviction, especially given the exceptional circumstance of the maximum punishment awarded to him.
As a Parliamentarian and leader of the opposition, Gandhi emphasized that it was his duty to critically evaluate the conduct of the ruling establishment.
He argued that his speech should be seen in its entirety to ascertain whether there was any intention to defame or not.
Gandhi raised concerns about the reliance on an oral witness in the case, pointing out that this individual was neither mentioned in the complaint nor known to him.
The presence of this witness, who allegedly has strong ties with a political rival party, raised suspicions of potential bias.
Regarding the electronic evidence presented against him, Gandhi stated that the CDs were not properly attached to the complaint and lacked proper sealing.
Furthermore, he highlighted that there is no singular “Modi Samaj” as portrayed; instead, the “Modi” surname belongs to various castes, and the complainant himself admitted that individuals like Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, and Mehul Choksi do not fall within the same caste. Therefore, Gandhi argued that there is no identifiable class of people as portrayed in the case.
Gandhi’s rejoinder was drafted by advocates Prasanna S and Tarannum Cheema, settled by Prashanto Chandra Sen and Rajinder Cheema, senior advocates, and re-settled by Dr. A. M. Singhvi, senior advocate.
The background of the case dates back to a political rally in Karnataka’s Kolar in 2019, where Gandhi made the controversial remark.
BJP MLA Purnesh Modi filed a complaint against him, resulting in a conviction and a two-year jail sentence in March. Despite securing bail, Gandhi’s conviction led to his disqualification as a Lok Sabha member.
The Supreme Court is now set to hear his plea challenging the Gujarat High Court’s decision to decline his request for a stay on the conviction.
The matter is scheduled for hearing on August 4.