The Jharkhand High Court on Tuesday directed that no coercive action be taken against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi till August 16 in a 2019 defamation case related to his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname, reported Bar and Bench.

The Congress leader had moved the High Court challenging the Ranchi MP-MLA court order in May that had directed him to appear in person in the hearing. The High Court also exempted him from personal appearance for the next hearing on August 16.

The case against Gandhi pertains to his remarks at a rally in Karnataka’s Kolar ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Gandhi was said to have asked: “Why all the thieves, be it Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi or Narendra Modi, have Modi in their names?”

Nirav Modi is a fugitive businessman accused in the Punjab National Bank scam while Lalit Modi is former Indian Premier League chief who has been banned for life by the cricket governing body. Advocate Pradeep Modi had filed a defamation case against him in 2019.

On March 23, a court in Gujarat’s Surat had sentenced Gandhi to two years’ imprisonment in a criminal defamation case filed in the same matter by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Surat West MLA Purnesh Modi. This had led to Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha. On Tuesday, the Gujarat High Court refused to grant him Gandhi interim protection from conviction.

The former Congress chief, however, got relief from the Patna High Court on April 24 in another case filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushil Modi. The High Court stayed the defamation proceedings noting that Gandhi has already been convicted for the remarks in Gujarat and cannot be put on trial for the same matter again.