New Delhi: In a massive setback for Rahul Gandhi, a court in Gujarat today rejected his request to pause his conviction in a defamation case over his “Modi surname” remark.
This means Rahul Gandhi cannot be reinstated as Member of Parliament.
Rahul Gandhi had requested that his conviction be paused pending his appeal against a court order sentencing him to two years in jail. The trial court, said the Congress leader, had treated him harshly, overwhelmingly influenced by his status as an MP.
The 52-year-old was convicted by a court and sentenced to prison for two years in Gujarat on March 23 for a 2019 speech in which he linked PM Modi's last name with two fugitive businessmen.
BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi filed the case over Rahul Gandhi’s comments at a rally in Karnataka’s Kolar: “How come all thieves have the common surname Modi?”
The court granted Mr Gandhi bail for 30 days to appeal the verdict.
Mr Gandhi approached the sessions court on April 3 against the lower court’s order. His lawyers also filed two applications, one to hold the sentence and another to pause his conviction until a decision on his appeal.
The Congress leader argued that the sentence was excessive and contrary to law, and that if the order was not suspended, it would cause “irreparable damage” to his reputation. He also said he was sentenced in a way that he would be disqualified as a parliamentarian.
Mr Gandhi’s Lok Sabha seat Wayanad in Kerala is vacant and due for by-elections.
BJP MLA Purnesh Modi opposed his request and said Mr Gandhi is a “repeat offender”.