A court in Gujarat’s Surat city will begin hearing from March 7 final arguments of the respondent in a criminal defamation case filed against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his alleged objectionable remarks on “Modi” surname, a lawyer said on Wednesday.
The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma will begin hearing the final arguments of the respondent (the Congress leader) after the petitioner in the case wrapped up his concluding statements on Tuesday, Gandhi’s lawyer Kirit Panwala said.
Former Gujarat minister and Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Purnesh Modi had filed a criminal defamation case against Gandhi after he allegedly stated at an election rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as to “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” According to the complainant, the Congress MP’s statements defamed the entire Modi community.
“The final arguments of the petitioner (Purnesh Modi) concluded on Tuesday and we will begin our arguments from March 7,” said Panwala.
The Gujarat High Court had in March last year granted an interim stay on proceedings after Modi approached it challenging the lower court order rejecting his application to make the accused (Gandhi) “personally explain the contents of the CDs and/or pen drives and/or any such other electronic records” related to his controversial speech.
The HC vacated its stay after the BJP leader withdrew his application demanding the Wayanad Lok Sabha MP’s personal appearance in the lower court.
The final arguments resumed from Monday (February 27) after the HC last week lifted the stay on proceedings in the matter in the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court.
The lawyer for the complainant argued that CDs and pen drives containing the controversial remarks prove Gandhi made such a speech at the rally, and whatever he said about “Modi” surname defamed the entire community.
The former Congress president had pleaded not guilty to charges during his earlier appearance before the Surat court, when it had recorded his statement in the case filed under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500 (dealing with defamation).
During the trial, the complainant had submitted certified copies of three CDs received from the district election officer and collector of Kolar district which contained recording of his controversial speech.