Rahul Gandhi to file appeal against criminal defamation case conviction on 3 April

The appeal will be filed in a sessions court against his conviction over a comment on the "Modi" surname in the run-up to the 2019 polls.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 02, 2023 | 1:35 PMUpdatedApr 02, 2023 | 1:39 PM

Rahul Gandhi speaking at an event in Wayanad. (X)

“Dis’Qualified” Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi is expected to file an appeal before a court in Surat in Gujarat on Monday, 3 April, against his conviction in a criminal defamation case.

He is likely to be present in the sessions court when the plea — challenging the order of a lower court, which also sentenced him to two years in jail — is filed, sources said on Sunday.

“A petition challenging the lower court order will be filed in the sessions court of Surat on Monday, with Rahul Gandhi remaining present,” a member of his legal team said, requesting anonymity.

Related: All India Fishermen Congress to undertake a march to Parliament 

Congress leaders to accompany

Senior state and national leaders of the Congress will reportedly accompany him to Surat, sources said.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma in Surat on 23 March convicted Rahul Gandhi and sentenced him to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his “Modi surname” remark.

It held 52-year-old Rahul Gandhi guilty under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500.

The court also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days so he could appeal in a higher court.

Rahul Gandhi was on 24 March disqualified from the Lok Sabha following his conviction. He subsequently updated his Twitter bio as “Dis’Qualified MP”.

The disqualification, however, united the Opposition parties, especially in the south, with almost all of them condemning the move against the Gandhi scion. The call for a united Opposition against the BJP also became louder.

Related: A divided Opposition unites for disqualified MP Rahul Gandhi

‘Trying to silence martyr’s son’

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul’s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused the Central government of “trying to silence” a “martyr’s son” for channelling the people’s voice.

Kharge said that the Narendra Modi government was scared of Rahul Gandhi and his party.

“They cancelled the Lok Sabha membership of Rahul Gandhi to kill democracy. They want to silence those who speak the truth. The country will not tolerate this dictatorship. We will even go to jail to protect democracy,” Kharge said in a tweet.

Congress MLA and former Opposition leader in the Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said the party would fight the move against Rahul Gandhi legally and politically.

“We have already started protest rallies in Kerala, and they will be extended to every nook and corner of the country. The immediate disqualification has raised suspicion among the public,” he told South First after Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha.

Also read: Lok Sabha Secretariat revokes disqualification of Mohammad Faizal 

‘Satyameva Jayate’ 

In the wake of his disqualification from the Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi is expected to launch a nationwide campaign called Satyameva Jayate (Truth Alone Triumphs) from poll-bound Karnataka’s Kolar district on 5 April.

The campaign against the BJP from Kolar is significant since it is where Rahul made the controversial remark during the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign.

“Rahul Gandhi will start the campaigning from the same place where he had spoken the truth for which he has been convicted. This campaign is titled Satyameva Jayate,” said Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president DK Shivakumar.

“National leaders, including AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge, will be present for its launch,” he added.

Related: Rahul Gandhi to launch nationwide campaign from Kolar

‘Scared of next speech’

Rahul Gandhi claimed that he was disqualified from the Lok Sabha because Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scared of his next speech on the Adani issue.

He alleged that the “whole game” was to distract the people’s attention from the panicked government. He said neither disqualification nor jail could scare him.

To a specific query on whether he wanted to apologise for his 2019 comment on the “Modi surname”, he said that his name was not Savarkar — a swipe at BJP-RSS’ icon VD Savarkar.

“My name is not Savarkar. My name is Rahul Gandhi. Gandhi never apologies,” he said, referring to the mercy petitions VD Savarkar purportedly wrote to the British.

The Congress leader was earlier served a notice by the Lok Sabha Secretariat to vacate the government bungalow allotted to him by 22 April, following his disqualification.

He replied to the notice saying that he would abide by the eviction notice, even as his party and other Opposition leaders slammed the government, calling it a “petty act”.

(With PTI inputs)