The next hearing on the appeal challenging the conviction has been fixed for April 13.
NEW DELHI — Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was on Monday granted bail extension by the Surat sessions court and his two-year jail sentence was paused until a decision on his appeal challenging his conviction. The next hearing has been fixed for April 13.
Rahul Gandhi approched Surat court to appeal against the conviction in a 2019 defamation case in which he was sentenced to two years leading to his disqualification from Lok Sabha. The court has paused the two-year sentence. Gandhi’s legal team filed the appeal shortly before he reached the court and sought bail.
The former Congress president need not appear in court for the next hearing.
The former Congress president reached Surat in the afternoon via a scheduled commercial flight along with sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and proceeded to the sessions court to appeal against last month’s ruling of a lower court.
A large group of Congress leaders. Chief ministers of three Congress-ruled states – Ashok Gehlot, Bhupesh Baghel and Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu also flew to Surat with Rahul Gandhi.
The 52-year-old Congress leader was earlier convicted by the lower court in Surat and sentenced to prison for two years for a speech in which he linked PM Modi’s last name with two fugitive businessmen, remarking how the “thieves” shared the same last name.
The lower court had granted him bail for 30 days to appeal the verdict.
A day later, he was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha.
After the court order, Rahul Gandhi tweeted he is fighting against “Mitrakal”, alluding to the ruling BJP, often the target of the Congress over allegations of misusing government agencies to harass the opposition.
“This is a fight to save democracy, against ‘Mitrakal’. In this struggle, truth is my weapon, and truth is my support,” Mr Gandhi tweeted in Hindi.
If Rahul Gandhi’s conviction is not reversed, his disqualification as an MP will stand and he will be barred from contesting elections for eight years.
Photo: Rahul Gandhi waves at supporters as he leaves from Surat District Court after filing an appeal challenging his conviction and sentencing in the 2019 criminal defamation case over the ‘Modi surname’ remark, in Surat on Monday. — PTI