On Thursday, a court in Gujarat’s Surat found Congress leader Rahul Gandhi guilty and sentenced him to two years in prison over his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname. The Wayanad MP had alleged that the name of Modi was associated with thieves.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had accused Gandhi of defamation and had filed a criminal case against him. The complainant in the case was Purnesh Modi, a member of the state legislature and a BJP leader.
Gandhi was convicted under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code for making defamatory statements on 23 March. The court ordered him to serve jail time and fined him 15,000 rupees.
The BJP welcomed the decision, with Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju saying Gandhi’s comments were “dangerous” for India. The ruling coalition has heightened its attacks on Gandhi, a vital opposition member and one of the BJP’s strongest supporters, ahead of national elections next year.
Meanwhile, Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra backed her brother and said he was an “eminent” leader who lived his life speaking the truth.
In response to the court’s judgment, several leaders of opposition parties expressed dissent over its decision. They also complained about the “continuous targeting of opposition leaders.”
‘Excessive’ Sentencing To Be Protested In Appeal
The sentencing comes just weeks after Gandhi made controversial remarks in the UK on the quality of democracy in India. He criticized Modi’s treatment of political opponents and claimed that Indian democracy was under attack.
Defamation cases have long been a significant issue in the country, but they have become more of a focal point in recent years as the opposition and the ruling party fight for influence. This has been a particularly contentious period for the BJP and its main rival, the Congress party.
This has caused a lot of damage to the Congress party’s reputation. As a result, its leaders are worried that their fortunes are declining.
On Thursday, a court in Gujarat’s Surat convicted Gandhi of a criminal defamation case for his remarks about the Prime Minister’s surname. The judge, Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma, found him guilty under the IPC sections 499 and 500 for defamation of reputation.
A senior lawyer told media persons that the court had suspended the sentence for 30 days, giving Gandhi time to file an appeal in a higher court. This protects him from being disqualified as a parliamentarian and saves him from going to jail for the rest of his life.
Another BJP leader, Sushil Modi, filed a defamation case against Gandhi for his comments. He alleged that the Congress leader had used his ‘Modi’ surname to target people of the backward Sahu community, mainly from Gujarat.
The court said that the statement was “defamatory” and had hurt the sentiments of the entire Modi community.
Several politicians, including BJP leader Sushil Modi and Shiv Sena Ubt president Priyanka Chaturvedi, have called for the sentencing to be quashed. They said the court’s order was “excessive” and had “far-reaching consequences.”
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