Central Gujarat High Court Denies Interim Protection to Rahul Gandhi, Verdict Postponed

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The Gujarat High Court announced that it will deliver its verdict on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s plea for a stay on his conviction after the summer vacation ends in the first week of June. On Tuesday, the court declined to grant him interim protection. Gandhi was sentenced in March to two years in prison for criminal defamation in a complaint filed by MLA Purnesh Modi over Gandhi’s remarks about individuals with the Modi surname. Justice Hemant Prachchhak stated that the verdict would be pronounced only after the summer vacation, which will take place from May 8 to June 4, with vacation benches handling urgent matters. Justice Prachchhak will be unavailable from May 4 as he will be traveling abroad. He requested records of the defamation trial before the Surat magistrate court for review on Tuesday. Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Gandhi, sought interim relief by requesting a stay on the conviction until the final verdict is pronounced. However, Justice Prachchhak mentioned that he would be making the final decision and refused to grant interim stay. The High Court’s order stated that interim protection could not be granted at this stage since the matter had been heard, citing the interest of justice. Complainant Purnesh Modi, represented by senior counsel Nirupam Nanavati, opposed Gandhi’s plea for a stay on conviction by arguing that defamation is considered a serious offense under the Representation of the People Act. Nanavati’s argument was in response to Gandhi’s claim that defamation is not a serious offense. He emphasized that Gandhi’s sufferance, as mentioned in his petition, is due to Parliamentary legislation and not the court’s directions, therefore it cannot be used as a basis for seeking a stay on conviction.

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