The Supreme Court today agreed to hear on July 21, 2023, the Special Leave Petition filed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi challenging the order of the Gujarat High Court which had dismissed the plea by Gandhi challenging the order of the Surat Sessions Court declining a stay to his conviction in a criminal defamation case over his "Modi surname" remark.

The Bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice P.S. Narasimha and Justice Manoj Misra agreed to post the matter for consideration after Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Rahul Gandhi mentioned the matter seeking an urgent hearing.

"I am asking for Friday or Monday" submitted Singhvi. Agreeing to consider the matter, the CJI posted it for Friday.

The Gujarat High Court while dismissing the plea had said that stay of conviction is not a rule but an exception to be resorted to in rare cases. The Court noted that as many as 10 criminal cases are pending against Rahul Gandhi. The Court said that the need of the hour is to have purity of politics. The Judge noted that other complaints have been filed against the present accused after the present complaint.

The High Court had further referred to the complaint against Gandhi for his remarks against Veer Savarkar, filed by the relatives of Veer Savarkar. Refusal of conviction will not result in injustice to the applicant, the Court said. The impugned order is just, proper and legal and does not call for interference. The criminal appeal is to be decided as expeditiously by the Appellate Court, the Court directed.

The Sessions Court of Surat had on April 20, 2023, dismissed the plea filed by Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi seeking a stay on his conviction by a Magistrate in a criminal defamation case. The Additional Sessions Judge had observed, “It is not disputed fact that the Appellant was the Member of Parliament and President of the second largest political party and looking to such stature of Appellant he should have been more careful with his words, which would have large impact on the mind of people."

It was also noted that "Any defamatory words coming from the mouth of Appellant are sufficient enough to cause mental agony to aggrieved person. In this case, by uttering defamatory words viz. comparing persons having surname 'Modi' with thieves would definitely have caused mental agony and harm the reputation of the complainant, who is socially active and dealing in public.”

Cause Title: Rahul Gandhi vs. Purnesh Ishwarbhai Modi [D.No.27941/23]