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Will fight both politically, legally: Congress after setback for Rahul Gandhi in 'Modi surname' case

New Delhi: Congress on Friday said that they will approach the Supreme Court shortly after the Gujarat High Court today upheld Sessions Court's order denying stay on conviction of the former Wayanad MP in the defamation case against 'Modi surname' remark.
"We will fight both the political battle and the legal battle," Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge tweeted. Kharge said that Rahul Gandhi had always fought for the truth and will do so in future too.
Congress leader Pawan Kumar Bansal said, "We believe this decision (by the Gujarat HC) is wrong on the basis of facts and laws."
"We have always respected the judiciary and held it in high esteem but we believe that this decision is wrong - both in facts as well as law...The political fate (of Rahul Gandhi) is not decided really by the decision of the court. It is decided by the people of the country and the people of the country are solidly behind Rahul Gandhi...," Bansal told reporters at the Congress party's headquarters in the national capital.
Terming the verdict as "unfortunate", Congress MP K Suresh said,"...Now, we are going to Supreme Court. We believe in the judiciary and that is why we believe that the Supreme Court will give judgement in favour of Rahul Gandhi."
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh stated that the Gujarat High Court's ruling in the defamation case against Rahul Gandhi was being studied and the "judgement only redoubles our resolve to pursue the matter further."
"We have noted the verdict of the single-judge bench of the Gujarat High Court on the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi. The reasoning of the judge is being studied, as it should be, and Abhishek Singhvi will be briefing the media in detail at 3 pm. The judgement only redoubles our resolve to pursue the matter further," Jairam Ramesh tweeted.
The Gujarat High Court's decision implies that Rahul Gandhi will not be able to contest elections or seek revocation of the suspension of his status as a Member of Parliament.
After the High Court announced its verdict, Congress workers raised slogans and protested at the party headquarters in the national capital. In Rajasthan Congress workers sporting black bands carried out a protest march in Jaipur, Congress has asked all the PCCs to take out protests.
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister and Congress leader DK Shivakumar termed the verdict a "murder of democracy."
"It is very unfortunate that justice has not prevailed. It is murder of democracy but still, the entire country and the Opposition parties stand by him (Rahul Gandhi.) He is a great leader who is fighting across the country to unite it. BJP leaders are not able to tolerate this. They want to block him from Parliament. I feel he will grow stronger," tweeted Shivakumar.
Talking to reporters in Ahmedabad, Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said that the decision regarding the defamation case against Rahul Gandhi was between 80 and 90 pages long and Congressman Abhishek Manu Singhvi would provide the AICC's official response to the ruling today after reviewing the entire ruling.
"We are sure that the matter will go to Supreme Court," said Gohil.
He said that there was no hard proof in the defamation complaint against Rahul Gandhi on the 'Modi surname' remark.
"Rahul Gandhi spoke against Lalit Modi-Nirav Modi who looted the country and fled. He said this in Karnataka. Surat Court had no jurisdiction. The procedure was not followed. There is nothing concrete in Rahul Gandhi's case. We are absolutely sure that we will get justice," Gohil said.
Cabinet Minister Pratap Singh Khachariawas claimed that the Central Government is targeting Rahul Gandhi and that political climate under BJP was to blame.
"Congress committees are protesting across the country. People of the country are taking to the streets. Rahul Gandhi and Congress are being conspired against because BJP is scared of Rahul Gandhi and Congress. Rahul Gandhi's voice can't be stifled. He spoke against one individual, he didn't target a caste. This conspiracy will cost BJP, their countdown has begun. We will approach the Supreme Court...," said Khachariawas.
Rajasthan Cabinet Minister Govind Ram Meghwal also stated that workers from all over India were hopeful that the Gujarat High Court would stay its judgement.
"...We will register our protest by tying black band and if we have to go to jail in support of Rahul Gandhi, otherwise Congress workers will be jailed all over the country," said Govind Ram Meghwal.
In response to the Gujarat High Court's ruling in the Rahul Gandhi defamation case Rajasthan Cabinet Minister Mahesh Joshi stated that no one could comment on the court's legal process and that if any action was to be taken, they would follow the legal process and file an appeal against the defamation case in the Supreme Court.
"These are all legal things, no one can comment on the decision of the court, but we will follow the legal procedure and we will appeal against it in the Supreme Court. To stop this decision, the Congress party will go to the Supreme Court and take legal opinion in this matter," said the Rajasthan Water Supply Minister.
Gujarat High Court on Friday upheld the Sessions Court's order and denied a stay on his conviction in the defamation case against the 'Modi surname' remark.
The High Court had in May reserved its order on Rahul Gandhi's plea seeking a stay on his conviction in the 2019 'Modi surname' defamation case. The court had refused to grant any interim relief to Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress leader had moved the Gujarat High Court on April 25 challenging the Surat sessions court order which declined to stay his conviction in the criminal defamation case.
The Surat sessions court had on April 20 rejected Rahul Gandhi's plea seeking a stay on his conviction by the lower court in the criminal defamation case.
In his judgement, Additional sessions judge Robin P Mogera had cited Gandhi's stature as an MP and former chief of the country's second-largest political party and said he should have been more careful.
He cited prima facie evidence and observations of the trial court and said it transpires that Rahul Gandhi Gandhi made certain derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi apart from comparing people with the same surname with thieves.
Judge Mogera said the surname of the complainant in the case, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Purnesh Modi, is also Modi. "...the complainant is [also an] ex-minister and involved in public life and such defamatory remarks would have certainly harmed his reputation and caused him pain and agony in society," he said.
He cited the disqualification criteria under the Representation of the People Act and added that removal or disqualification as MP could not be termed irreversible or irreparable loss or damage to Gandhi.
Following his conviction by a lower court in the criminal defamation case, Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as Lok Sabha MP. He had been elected to Lok Sabha from Wayanad in Kerala.
The lower court sentenced the Congress leader to two years in jail on March 23 under sections 499 and 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in a case filed by Purnesh Modi.
At a rally in Karnataka's Kolar in April 2019, Rahul Gandhi, in a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said, "How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?". Following the session's court verdict, Congress had said it will move the Gujarat High Court. (ANI)

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