Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday appeared before a magistrate’s court here to record his statement in a criminal defamation case filed against him over his remark about the “Modi surname" during a campaign rally in 2019. He had appeared before the court twice earlier.
During Friday’s hearing, the Congress leader replied “I don’t know" to most of the questions asked by the court on the basis of recent testimonies of two witnesses — the then electoral officer of Kolar in Karnataka where Gandhi had made the speech, and a videographer appointed by the Election Commission to shoot that rally. Gandhi claimed ignorance and said “I don’t know" when Chief Judicial Magistrate A N Dave asked if he knew about the appointment of Arun Kumar as official videographer to shoot the rally.
He gave the same reply when asked about other technical details such as storage of that video in a computer. The Congress leader had earlier appeared before the court on June 24 this year. The magistrate asked him to remain present again on October 29 after the statements of the other two witnesses were recorded.
He had appeared before the court first in October 2019 and pleaded not guilty. Local BJP MLA Purnesh Modi — now a minister in the Gujarat government — filed the case against Gandhi under Indian Penal Code sections 499 and 500 which deal with defamation in October 2019.
He alleged that Gandhi, addressing a poll rally, defamed the entire Modi community by saying “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?" In his speech at the rally in Kolar on April 13, 2019, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the then Congress president had reportedly asked, “Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi…how come they all have Modi as the common surname". On Friday, Purnesh Modi’s lawyers filed an application seeking to call one Chandrappa, the then head of the Video Viewing Team, as a witness. The magistrate said he would decide the plea on Saturday.
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