SC to Hear Rahul Gandhi's Plea Against Gujarat High Court's Defamation Ruling on July 21

Rozana Spokesman

News, Nation

Defamation Case Raises Concerns Over Freedom of Expression

Rahul Gandhi

NEW-DELHI: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's plea challenging the Gujarat High Court's judgment that stayed his remarks on the "Surname Modi" on July 21. The petition seeks to set aside Gandhi's sentence, and senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing Gandhi, requested the listing of the petition on either July 21 or July 24. A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and Manoj Mishra agreed to hear the matter on July 21.

In his petition filed with the Supreme Court on July 15, Gandhi argued that failure to stay the July 7 order would stifle liberty, free thought, and expression. He further expressed concern that the order could systematically and repeatedly undermine democratic institutions, suffocating democracy, and impacting India's political climate and future.

The criminal defamation case against Rahul Gandhi stemmed from a statement he made during an election rally in Kolar, Karnataka, on April 13, 2019. Gandhi had remarked, "Why do all thieves have the same surname, Modi?" The controversial statement resulted in the filing of a criminal defamation case in 2019.

In his petition, Rahul Gandhi emphasized that if the "guilty" verdict is not stayed, it would curtail freedom of speech, thought, and expression. The case had led to the imposition of an unprecedented maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment.

The Surat Metropolitan Magistrate Court convicted Rahul Gandhi on March 23 under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for criminal defamation and sentenced him to two years in prison. Following the court's decision, Gandhi was disqualified from Parliament membership under sections of the Representation of the People Act. He had been elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019 from Wayanad, Kerala. The upcoming Supreme Court hearing is anticipated to address the crucial matter of free speech and expression, and its outcome may have far-reaching implications on India's democratic landscape.