PM Modi’s Degree: Gujarat HC refuses to stay summons issued to Kejriwal, Singh in Defamation case

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday refused to stay the summons issued to AAP leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Sanjay Singh by a magistrate’s court in a criminal defamation case filed by the Gujarat University over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s degree.

While hearing their common petitions seeking quashing of the summons issued by the trial court earlier, Justice JC Doshi on Thursday issued notices to the Gujarat University and state government and posted the matter for a detailed hearing on November 3.

Since the magistrate’s court in Ahmedabad, which is conducting the trial in the defamation case and had issued summons to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders in April, would take up the matter on October 14, senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing for the AAP leaders, urged Justice Doshi to at least give interim relief ahead of that hearing.

“The matter is coming up day after tomorrow (Oct 14) before the magistrate, so if you can pass an order that till this petition is not heard (there will be a stay on trial)…If no interim protection is granted, the whole exercise (of today’s hearing) will be in futility,” urged John, who appeared virtually.

However, Justice Doshi refused to grant any relief at this stage saying, “No, right now we can’t. We can hear you at the earliest, but no order will be issued (today).”

When advocate Aum Kotwal, appearing in person for the AAP leaders, urged the court to consider their “adjournment application” they intend to file on October 14 against the trial court proceedings, Justice Doshi refused to entertain such an application and asked the petitioners to approach the trial court for relief.

The HC judge also refused Kotwal’s request to pass an order asking the trial court to consider the adjournment application if filed before it in the days to come.

AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal and party’s Rajya Sabha member Singh have challenged before the HC the September 14 order of the sessions court dismissing their revision applications against the trial court’s summons in the criminal defamation case filed by the Gujarat University.

Sessions court judge JM Brahmbhatt had earlier upheld the decision of the trial court to summon the two leaders saying its order was “neither illegal nor erroneous”.

The metropolitan court here had summoned Kejriwal and Singh on April 15 in the defamation case filed by the varsity over their “sarcastic” and “derogatory” statements in connection with PM’s degree.

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Gujarat University registrar Piyush Patel had filed a defamation case against the two AAP leaders over their comments after the high court set aside an order of the Chief Information Commissioner on Modi’s degree.

The two politicians made “defamatory” statements at press conferences and also on their Twitter (now X) handles targeting the university over Modi’s degree, the complainant stated.

Their statements were sarcastic in nature and intentionally made to hurt the prestige of the university, which has established its name among people, it said.

The two leaders had filed revision applications in the sessions court challenging the summons issued by the metropolitan court. However, the sessions court on August 7 rejected their plea for an interim stay on the trial after which they approached the HC.

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