Supreme Court to Hear Rahul Gandhi’s Appeal in Defamation Case on July 21

The Supreme Court has constant July 21 for listening to a petition filed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in the criminal defamation case. This appeal challenges the Gujarat High Court’s decision to uphold his conviction and two-year jail term, refusing to put them on hold.

Dhananjay Y Chandrachud constantly the listening to date after Abhishek Manusinghvi, senior suggest to the Chief Justice of India, requested an early hearing. The petition was filed on July 15, a week after the Supreme Court verdict that created a hurdle in Gandhi’s bid to revive his Lok Sabha membership. The court stated that Gandhi had “breached modesty” and his offense involved “moral turpitude.”

In his appeal, Gandhi urged the Supreme Court to immediately stay his conviction, enabling him to regain his Member of Parliament (MP) status. He argued that the conviction order would stifle free speech, expression, thought, and statements, leading to the erosion of democratic institutions and democracy itself.

Gandhi’s petition also expressed concern that a political speech critical of economic offenders and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been deemed an act of moral turpitude, resulting in severe punishment. He argued that such a finding would be detrimental to democratic free speech during political campaigns, potentially eliminating critical political dialogue and debate.

The complainant in the case, BJP leader Purnesh Modi, has filed a caveat in the Supreme Court to ensure that no orders are passed in Gandhi’s appeal without hearing his side.

Earlier this year, on March 23, a Gujarat magisterial court convicted Gandhi for his remarks on the Modi surname, following a criminal complaint filed by Purnesh Modi. Thе Congrеss lеadеr was put in jail for two yеars bеcausе of thе Rеprеsеntation of thе Pеoplе Act,  which mеant thеy couldn’t bе an MP whilе in prison.  Subsequently, on March 24, Gandhi was declared disqualified as an MP from Wayanad, Kerala, by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

Gandhi’s plea for a stay of conviction was rejected by the sessions court on April 20, which referred him to the apex court. On July 7, the high court upheld this decision, rejecting Gandhi’s criminal revision application seeking a stay on his conviction.

The Supreme Court judgment means that Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha will remain valid. While he cannot be arrested as his jail term is currently suspended, only a stay on his conviction by the Supreme Court or a favorable judgment in his appeal by a sessions court can allow him to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections next year.

Based on the legal rules, Gandhi’s subsequent two-year conviction disqualifies him from entering any House of Parliament for eight years. However, this can be overturned or suspended if a higher court grants a stay on the conviction.

Gandhi’s legal team now has the task of securing a stay on the conviction within the next ten months to enable the former Congress chief to participate in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Appealing in the Supreme Court, Gandhi said the high court and lower court judgments had held that his unilateral statement was a serious offense.  He emphasized his significant role as a former President of the country’s oldest political movement and his continuous involvement in opposition political activity.

Gandhi warned that if political satire were to be regarded as a base motive, any political speech critically targeting the government or any political party would be considered an act of moral turpitude. Such an interpretation, he argued, might undermine the principles of democracy.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Gandhi’s appeal will be eagerly awaited as his political career has important implications for future political discourse in India.

 Rahul Gandhi could be very effective in Indian politics, having formerly served as the president of India’s foremost political party, the Indian National Congress. He has taken a lively element in political campaigns and is a distinguished leader of the opposition. The defamation case against him stems from his remarks on the Modi surname, which sparked controversy and legal repercussions.

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