A Surat court on Tuesday granted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi exemption from personally appearing in connection with a defamation case filed against him by a Gujarat lawmaker, PTI reported. The court posted the matter for hearing next on October 10.
Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Purnesh Modi had filed the case against Gandhi for a jibe he had made about people with the surname “Modi”, during the Lok Sabha election campaign. In an election speech on April 13, Gandhi had claimed that all people with the surname Modi were corrupt, citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi and Punjab National Bank scam-accused Nirav Modi as examples.
Judicial Magistrate BH Kapadia had issued summons last week to Gandhi after finding that there was a case of criminal defamation against him under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code.
Lawyer Kirit Panwala, representing Gandhi, moved the exemption application on Tuesday, saying that it was difficult for Gandhi to appear as he received the summons only a few days ago. She said the Congress leader had prior commitments because of which he cannot appear in court. The court accepted the argument and granted Gandhi exemption from personal appearance.
On July 6, a court in Patna granted Gandhi bail two sureties of Rs 10,000 each, for the same remark in a separate case filed by Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi.
Last week, Gandhi was also granted bail in connection with another criminal defamation case filed by by Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and its Chairperson Ajay Patel. The plaintiff had alleged that Gandhi and party’s national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala falsely claimed that demonetised notes worth Rs 745 crore were exchanged at the bank within five days of the government’s announcement of the note ban in November 2016.
On July 4, Gandhi had pleaded not guilty in a Mumbai court in a defamation case filed by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist for allegedly linking the organisation to the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2017. He was granted bail on surety of Rs 15,000.