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Rahul Gandhi Sentenced to 2 Years in ‘Modi Surname’ Defamation Case, Gets Bail

Surat district court sentenced Congress MP Rahul Gandhi to two years imprisonment in a criminal defamation case filed against him over his alleged 'Modi surname' remark.

On Thursday, a Surat court found Congress MP Rahul Gandhi guilty in a 2019 defamation case and sentenced him to two years in prison. The court granted Rahul Gandhi bail on a Rs 15,000 bond and stayed the sentence for 30 days so he could appeal.

The case brought by the former Gujarat minister and BJP MLA from Surat West, Purnesh Modi concerns alleged remarks made by Gandhi at the Lok Sabha election rally in Kolar, Karnataka, on April 13, 2019, saying, “Why do all the thieves have Modi in their names whether be it Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi and Narendra Modi?”

Chief Judicial Magistrate H H Verma announced the order. Rahul Gandhi and several national and state assembly leaders appeared in court on Thursday afternoon. Surat Police have stepped up security measures at the courthouse campus to prevent unfortunate incidents.

“We are not satisfied with the judgment passed by the court as some of our arguments were not considered. We raised the issue that there is no community with the name Modi and even the complainant is not Modi because his previous surname was Bhootwala, and later it was changed to Modi. We will take our matter to a higher court in the coming days,” defence lawyer Kirit Pawala said.

Prosecution lawyers Kirit Reshamwala and MLA Purnesh Modi said they were “satisfied with the court order”. Speaking to the media, the BJP MLA said, “I belong to the Modhwanik Ghanchi community, which bears the Modi surname. Rahul Gandhi’s defamatory remarks hurt our feelings, and we have filed a complaint against him. Today, we are satisfied with the order passed by the court,” MLA supporters outside the court chanted in their support.

Advocate Hasmukh Lalwala, Purnesh Modi’s former lawyer, said: “In the beginning, when we drafted the pleadings, we were convinced that the case would be a strong conviction based on Rahul Gandhi’s defamatory statements.”

The case against Rahul Gandhi was brought under Section 499 (any person, by word orally or purportedly read, or by sign or by visible expression, makes or publishes any accusation that will damage the person’s reputation and is said to defame the person) and Section 500 (the person who defames another person will be punished with simple imprisonment which may extend up to two years, or a fine, or both) of the Indian Penal Code.

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