Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appeared before a magistrate’s court in Surat on Thursday to record his statement in a criminal defamation suit filed by a Gujarat MLA, and denied making any defamatory remarks on people with ‘Modi’ surname. The suit was filed by Surat BJP MLA Purnesh Modi over Gandhi’s alleged remark on the ‘Modi’ surname.
In his statement before Surat’s Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) A N Dave, Gandhi denied making any defamatory remarks on people with Modi surname during a rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. When the magistrate asked Gandhi if he had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave Rs 30 crore to an industrialist, Gandhi told the court that being a national leader, he keeps raising issues of corruption and unemployment in his addresses in the interest of the nation, and it is his right to raise do so.
When the court asked if he had said all people with Modi surname are thieves, Gandhi claimed he never said such words. Besides, to most of the remaining questions related to the evidence and statements of witnesses in the case, Gandhi said “I don’t know”.
After recording the statement, the magistrate kept the case for next hearing on July 12.Earlier, Rahul Gandhi had appeared before the court in October 2019 and pleaded not guilty for his comment.
Legislator Purnesh Modi filed a complaint against Gandhi in April 2019 under Indian Penal Code Sections 499 and 500, that deal with defamation. A week back, CJM Dave directed Gandhi to remain present on June 24 to record his statement in the case.
In his complaint, the MLA had alleged that Gandhi defamed the entire Modi community by saying “How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” while addressing a poll rally in 2019. During an election rally held at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019, Rahul Gandhi had reportedly asked, “Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi…how come they all have Modi as the common surname? How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” He was the Congress president when he had made this alleged remark.
Purnesh Modi has also moved the Gujarat High Court, seeking to call Kolar district collector and a videographer, who recorded the speech, as witnesses in the case. The high court is expected to hear the matter on Monday.