Today, while hearing Rahul Gandhi's plea challenging the Gujarat High Court's decision refusing to stay his conviction in the criminal defamation case over his "Modi surname" remark, Justice B.R. Gavai of the Supreme Court offered to recuse from the matter after highlighting his family association and close connection with the Congress Party.

After the parties agreed to have the matter heard by the same Bench, the Bench refused to suspend Rahul Gandhi's conviction, but issued notice on the plea. The bench also comprised Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra.

Justice Gavai to clear the air, before the counsels started arguing in the matter, began by saying, "I must express some difficulty on my part, both the sides, my father was not a Congress member but he was associated with Congress very closely for a period…you know it personally. He was associated with Congress for more than 40 years. He has been a Member of Parliament, Member of State Legislature with the support of the Congress, and my brother is still in Politics and associated with Congress. With this background, you have to take a call whether I should take up this matter or not".

Extending the answer in affirmative, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani appearing for the complainant in the case said, “We have no objections, milords, it is up to my learned friend”.

“I think it is a very fair comment, your lordship is kind enough to say so”, added Senior Advocate Dr. A.M. Singhvi who appeared for Rahul Gandhi.

However, Justice Gavai further remarked, "...I accept that I have a political background, I have been a judge for more than 20 years but it has never affected my…so you take a call whether I should take up or not”.

Singhvi replied, "No no, my learned friend has said so, and I am saying so, there is nobody else, I have no difficulty”.

The arguments in the matter then proceeded in its due course, and the court passed its order. Thereafter, Dr. Singhvi said, "Very kind of your lordships to say this, we have all including Mr. Jethmalani have been appearing before your lordship for decades. I don’t think this kind of a thing should be raked up. We have seen bad times", he added further.

"It is my duty, though you as well as Mr Jethmalani know all these facts, everybody must know, Tomorrow there must not be any problem...Coincidentally my father has been, along with your father as well as his father they were great friends.”, Justice Gavai said.

To that, Singhvi replied, “Actually I was thinking of making that disclosure. Now Mr. Jethmalani joins that group”.

"My father was good friend of your father as well as his father. As a matter of fact, in one of the election matters I had the pleasure of appearing with his (Mahesh Jethmalani's) father, as a junior. His father and my father were on both sides", Justice Gavai added further.

Justice Gavai's father, Ramkrishna Gavai was the founder of the Republican Party of India (Gavai). He passed away in the year 2015. He was the Governor of Bihar, Sikkim and Kerala and had been a member of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. He was also a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council. Justice Gavai's brother, Rajendra Gavai is also a politician belonging to RPI (Gawai), which was allied with the Congress.

Justice Gavai was elevated as an Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court on November 14, 2003, and was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court on May 24, 2019. He is due to retire on November 23, 2025. Before that, Justice Gavai is expected to become the Chief Justice of India for a period of around six months.

Cause Title: Rahul Gandhi vs. Purnesh Ishwarbhai Modi & Anr.