New Delhi, March 23
The Congress will challenge Rahul Gandhi’s conviction by a Surat court in a 2019 defamation case on five points.
The first pertains to the case complainant with Gandhi’s lawyer Abhishek Singhvi today saying, “The first principle of the law of defamation is that the complainant should be the person allegedly targeted by the defamatory content. That person has to then establish that defamation happened. In the Surat case, none of those who appear to have been targeted in the speech have complained.”
The complainant in the Surat case is a former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi.
Secondly, the Congress says it is equally well established that malice is an essential ingredient to prove an offence under the law of defamation.
“The very context of Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Kolar, Karnataka, shows there could not have been any malicious content. A leader was speaking about price rise. A miniscule portion of his speech was taken and read out of proportion. Also the law of defamation requires a specific defamatory allegation against an individual. A general comment about a group cannot constitute defamation,” argued Singhvi, who discussed the legal strategy with Rahul Gandhi at the latter’s residence today.
Gandhi has been convicted for his remarks “How come all the thieves have Modi surname?”
Thirdly, Singhvi said it appears that after the 2019 complaint was filed and “an X magistrate took up the matter, the complainant went to a higher court and got the entire case proceeding stayed. He revived the proceedings only after a new magistrate came. The same magistrate has delivered today’s orders. We will examine this aspect also”.
Fourthly, the Congress will question a Surat court’s jurisdiction in the matter.“The speech was made at Kolar. An established procedure of law is Section 202 which prevents mischievous prosecution without jurisdiction. Clearly a Kolar speech has no connection with Surat,” explained Singhvi, detailing the principal grounds on which the party plans to challenge the Surat court order which is said was “full of errors and unsustainable.”
Fifthly, the Congress said the sentencing was hurried and should have ideally been done following a separate hearing and arguments, which, he said, “was not done in this case.”
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