A court in Gujarat’s Surat city is likely to pass an order on March 23 in a criminal defamation case against Congress MP Rahul Gandhi over his alleged ”Modi surname” remark, his lawyer said on Monday. The Congress leader will remain present in the court when the order will be passed, the lawyer Kirit Panwala told PTI. The case was filed against Rahul Gandhi for his alleged ”how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” remark on a complaint lodged by BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi.
The complainant claimed that the controversial remark was made at a rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections which defamed the entire Modi community.
The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, H H Varma, concluded hearing final arguments from both sides last Friday and set March 23 as the date to pronounce the judgment, lawyers said.
”The court concluded the hearing of the criminal defamation case and kept the matter for judgement on March 23. Rahul Gandhi will remain present in the court when it passes the order,” Kirit Panwala said.
Rahul Gandhi had remained present in the court on three occasions during the hearing of the case. He last appeared in October 2021 to record his statement and pleaded not guilty.
The final arguments in the defamation case resumed in February 2023 after the Gujarat High Court vacated the interim stay it had imposed on proceedings in March 2022 on the complainant’s plea demanding the personal appearance of Rahul Gandhi.
The complainant, Purnesh Modi, had served as a minister in the first term of the Bhupendra Patel government in Gujarat. He was re-elected from the Surat West assembly seat in December 2022 elections.
The lawyer for the complainant argued that CDs and a pen drive of Rahul Gandhi’s speech prove that he had indeed made the remark at the rally and that his words defamed the Modi community.
Rahul Gandhi’s lawyer argued that the proceeding was flawed from the beginning as the legal procedure under section 202 of the CrPC was not followed.
He also argued that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and not Purnesh Modi, should have been the complainant in the case as an aggrieved party because most of Rahul Gandhi’s speech had targeted the prime minister.