It is indeed a matter of relief for the people of the country that the Honourable Supreme Court of India has granted stay on the unfortunate conviction of the youth icon Rahul Gandhi in ‘Modi’ Surname case. The judgment of the Apex court delivered on 04.08.2023 is a victory of India and its people for it has restored their faith in the rule of law, after some untenable judgments delivered in this case by some courts in Gujarat.
When Rahul Gandhi, backed by his courage of conviction, unflinching commitment to the truth and selfless love for the people of India, roars in the Parliament and outside, the corrupt, divisive and autocratic government of Narendra Modi gets rattled to the core. It is no wonder that many of their union ministers, party leaders and various government agencies have been spending hours after hours in making plans to suppress Rahul Gandhi’s voice. It is no longer a secret now that the BJP and its extensive propaganda machinery has been spending thousands of crores to tarnish the image of a dynamic and highly educated Rahul Gandhi, by relentlessly resorting to false and immoral disinformation campaigns during last 9 years. As if this was not enough, the BJP has been taking recourse to abusing the judicial process to achieve their aforesaid nefarious designs. The filing of ‘Modi’ surname case under criminal defamation laws and subsequent conviction by a Surat Court, for his statement intended to expose corruption and loot of Modi government during 2019 election campaign, was also one of their diabolic plans to subvert the ‘Voice of the truth and Courage’ in the country. The Apex court recently heard the matter in detail before staying the conviction.
First, it was argued in the Supreme Court that the above said defamation case was not filed by any person named by Rahul Gandhi during his election speech in 2019. On the contrary, the complaint was filed by an obscure activist of the BJP from Gujarat, who made a laughable claim that as he had a ‘Modi’ Surname, he as well as all the 13 crore people settled across the globe, who use ‘Modi’ surname, have been defamed. Surprisingly, this was accepted by the 3 Courts in Gujarat against the tenets of Indian laws. The fact is that ‘Modi’ surname is used by ten different castes and sub castes, which have no connection with each other. Surname ‘Modi’ is used by some non-Hindus also. Even, the three persons named by Rahul Gandhi in his impugned speech had different castes. Hence from the beginning, the complainant had no locus standi to file the complaint.
Further, the courts in Gujarat deliberated a lot on 13 defamation cases against Rahul Gandhi in order to justify his conviction, but failed to take a significant fact into account that all the 13 cases were filed by the BJP leaders and activists. The Gujarat courts totally ignored the question that why it is so that what Rahul Gandhi speaks is defamatory towards no other person except the BJP and its leaders.
The Gujarat High Court even went a step further and discovered a totally new offence against Rahul Gandhi under section 171(G) of the People’s Representation Act, even when the Complainant had not alleged the same in his complaint. Undoubtedly, the complaint was filed under Defamation laws enacted under Indian Penal Code and not under People’s Representation Act. But the High Court on its own sweet will, passed a judgment on a point, which was not pleaded even by the complainant.
It was further argued in the Apex Court that the defamation is not considered a heinous or serious offence under the Indian criminal laws. The Indian penal code categorically states that the offence of defamation is bailable and non-cognizable. It is punishable with fine or simple imprisonment, which may extend up to 2 years. But the Gujarat High court judgment said that the offence was serious, condemnable and involved moral turpitude. Such an interpretation is clearly against the established law, to say the least.
Finally, the Honourable Supreme Court took serious note of the fact that the maximum possible sentence of 2 year was awarded by the trial court in Surat and upheld by the two appellate courts, but none of them had given any reason to justify the award of maximum punishment. The truism is that even after a thorough research by the legal experts; they could not find a single person in the history of independent India, who has been awarded the maximum punishment under defamation laws, before this case. Further, the people of India must ponder over the fact that unprecedented maximum sentence of two years coincides with the minimum sentence needed to disqualify a Member of Parliament. Is this a mere co-incidence?
It seems, the BJP and Narendra Modi are scared of the virtues of truth, courage and fearlessness embodied in the towering leader of masses - Rahul Gandhi. Hence, they are not relenting in their unprincipled attacks on him. For the time being, the Supreme Court has put an end to the wicked conspiracy of the BJP to oust Rahul Gandhi from the Parliament. However, no one should forget that the legal machinery in Surat court acted at a superfast speed after Rahul Gandhi made a historic speech to expose the connection between Narendra Modi and Gautam Adani in the Parliament. Therefore, as Rahul Gandhi continues to bring the real face of Narendra Modi and the BJP to the fore, their shameless attacks on him are also likely to increase in same proportion. The Congress family, spread across the length and the breadth of the country, need to brace itself against such unfair vengeance let loose against their leader and work to its full capacity and strength to vote out this divisive, anti-people and pro-rich government.
The Author is a Spokesperson and delegate, Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee.