Rahul Gandhi was convicted by the Surat Court over his remark “Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi why all thieves share the Modi surname” made during a political campaign in Karol in April 2019. Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma sentenced him to two years in jail and also imposed a fine of Rs. 15,000 after finding him guilty under Sections 499 (Defamation), 500 (punishment for Defamation) IPC.
Although bail was granted to him later. A plea was also moved by Rahul Gandhi following which his sentence was suspended and bail was granted in order to move an appeal against his conviction within 30 days.
The case was filed by the BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi under sections 499 and 500 of IPC on the ground that it has defamed all people with the ‘Modi’ surname while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Purnesh Modi was a minister in the first tenure of the Bhupendra Patel government. The remark was also recorded in video and authorized by the video viewing team duly notified by the office of the Deputy Commissioner and District Election Officer, Kollar District.
Rahul Gandhi’s lawyer contended that the proceedings were flawed and the provision of Section 202 of the CrPC was not followed. He further contended that the complainant has no locus standi since he was not the target of Gandhi’s speech. Narender Modi should have been the one to file a complaint.
Section 499- Defamation Whoever by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person.
Section 500- Punishment for Defamation Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with a fine, or with both.