Supreme Court's decision in 'Modi' surname' comment case
                                                                                  Supreme Court's decision in 'Modi' surname' comment case

Supreme Court’s decision in ‘Modi’ surname’ comment case, notice issued on Rahul Gandhi’s petition

Supreme Court’s decision in ‘Modi’ surname’ comment case

(News By Bar and Bench) The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice on a plea by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi seeking stay on the conviction and two-year jail term imposed on him by a Gujarat court in a criminal defamation case for his remark “All thieves have Modi surname”. [Rahul Gandhi vs Purnesh Ishwarbhai Modi and anr]

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Prashant Kumar Mishra sought responses from respondents Purnesh Ishwarbhai Modi and the State of Gujarat and posted the case for further consideration on August 4.

“Issue notice. Waive notice on behalf of respondent number 1. Mr Jethmalani for respondent 1 seeks 10 days time to file written submissions,” the Court said.

During the hearing Justice Gavai offered to recuse from the case citing the association of his father and brother with the Congress party.

However, both the parties did not raise any objection to Justice Gavai hearing the matter.

The bench then proceeded to issue notice in the case.

Supreme Court's decision in 'Modi' surname' comment case
                                                                                  Supreme Court’s decision in ‘Modi’ surname’ comment case

The Supreme Court was hearing the appeal filed by the Congress leader and former Wayanad MP, challenging Gujarat High Court’s refusal to stay the conviction and two-year jail term imposed on him by the Magistrate court in Gujarat.

Single-judge Justice Hemant Prachchhak had refused relief on July 7, stating that staying conviction is not a rule and the same must only be exercised in rare cases.

The now disqualified parliamentarian was convicted by a Magistrate court in Surat on March 23 for his remark that he had made at an election rally in Karnataka’s Kolar constituency, in 2019.

Gandhi had, in his speech linked Prime Minister Narendra Modi with fugitives like Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi.

He had said,

“Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi. How come all the thieves have ‘Modi’ as a common surname?”

The proceedings in the instant case arose after Purnesh Modi, a former BJP Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), had taken exception to the the remarks in question, claiming that Gandhi humiliated and defamed persons with the Modi surname.

The magistrate court accepted the contention of Modi that by his speech, Gandhi has intentionally insulted the people with a ‘Modi’ surname.

In his 168-page judgment, Judge Hadirash Varma said that since Gandhi is a Member of Parliament (MP), whatever he says will have a greater impact. Thus, he should have exercised restraint, the Magistrate ruled.

A sessions court in Surat had, on April 20, dismissed Gandhi’s plea seeking suspension of his conviction by the Magistrate court.

Gandhi then moved the High Court which too refused to extend relief to him leading to the present appeal before the top court.

In his plea before the apex court, Gandhi contended that the High Courtorder has no parallel or precedent in the jurisprudence of the law of defamation in India“.

As per the plea, an undefined amorphous group which, according to the complainant consists of 13 crore people, has been held to be defamed.

Gandhi further said that the entire approach of the High Court judgement has been to mischaracterize the one-line statement of the petitioner as ‘very serious’.

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