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A Surat Sessions Court hearing an appeal seeking stay on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's conviction in a criminal defamation case has reserved its verdict, which will now be pronounced on April 20, 'Bar and Bench' reported.
Rahul Gandhi's counsel argued in the court that his disqualification from the Lok Sabha following his conviction in a criminal defamation case over the Modi surname would cause him "irreparable loss and irreversible injury".
Senior advocate R.S. Cheema, who represented Rahul Gandhi, claimed that the conviction based on an 'imagined' defamation was unfair since only an aggrieved person could file a complaint.
Cheema argued that Rahul Gandhi's speech wasn't defamatory unless taken out of context and magnified.
He also pointed to the geographical jurisdiction of the complainant, Surat West BJP MLA Purnesh Modi, stating that the speech was made in Kolar (Karnataka), and the complainant received a message on his WhatsApp in Surat.
The senior advocate claimed that the trial court was misled, leading to Rahul Gandhi's conviction and a two-year sentence, which has been suspended until his appeal is decided by the courts.
Purnesh Modi, meanwhile, responded to Rahul Gandhi's plea for a stay on his conviction, calling it a "dirty display of childish arrogance".
He claimed that Rahul Gandhi was a repeat offender and that his appearance in court with a battery of Congress leaders was a "very dirty display of childish arrogance and an immature act of bringing pressure upon the court".
After hearing the arguments, judge Robin Mogera reserved the verdict in the matter. The order will now be pronounced on April 20.
On March 25, Rahul Gandhi was suspended from the Lok Sabha following his conviction in the criminal defamation case. The Lok Sabha Secretariat had also declared his constituency in Kerala's Wayanad as vacant.
On March 24, a court in Surat had found Rahul Gandhi guilty and sentenced him to two years in prison in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surname. The Congress leader, however, was granted bail and his sentence was suspended for 30 days to allow him to appeal the Surat court verdict.
The case was filed against Rahul Gandhi by Purnesh Modi for saying "how come all thieves have the common surname Modi" while campaigning in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.