The court had previously denied to issue any relief on May 2 and had stated that it would issue its final decision on June 5, following the end of the summer break. The Gujarat High Court has been back in session for more than three weeks, but no decision has yet been made in the most publicised case involving the conviction of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi for libel. The High Court turned down Mr. Gandhi’s request for interim relief on May 2 while hearing his appeal for a stay of his conviction by a Surat court.
It stated that it would make its final decision on June 5 when it resumes operations after the summer break. Senior attorney Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented Mr. Gandhi, submitted a crucial request that the conviction be overturned by Justice H.M. Prachchhak. The judge heard the case and requested the trial court in Surat’s records, but he refused. As argued by Mr. Singhvi, “This is the first-ever case wherein maximum punishment under the law has been imposed for criminal defamation.”
“The court will pass the final order after the vacation as the hearing has been concluded,” the court had noted, adding, “It’s in the interest of justice and fitment of the case that the matter be finally decided.” The High Court had gone on summer vacation from the first week of May to June 4, and only urgent matters were heard by the Vacation Bench. “It has not even been listed for pronouncement of order,” a source from the HC mentioned.
Surat court ruling
A local Surat court had earlier this month found Mr. Gandhi guilty of criminal defamation and sentenced him to two years in prison. Purnesh Modi, a BJP lawmaker, had brought the case. He had gone before the court arguing that Mr. Gandhi’s remark about “why all thieves have the Modi surname in common” had damaged and defamed the Modi community.
In 2019, Mr. Gandhi made the same comment when speaking to a campaign rally in Karnataka for the most recent parliamentary elections. Mr. Gandhi was promptly removed from the Lok Sabha after being found guilty and receiving a sentence. He may have obtained the disqualification lifted, nevertheless, with a temporary reprieve provided by a conviction stay. Following his conviction and punishment, he addressed the Surat Sessions Court in April 2023, requesting that his sentence be suspended and his conviction be stayed pending his appeal. He was given bail by the sessions court, but the conviction was not overturned.