Complainant BJP MLA’s lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani refers to Rahul Gandhi as ‘still a convict’ following the Supreme Court verdict.”

After the Supreme Court issued a stay on the conviction of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in the ‘Modi’ surname defamation case on Friday, Rajya Sabha MP and senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani offered his perspective. Jethmalani, who represented BJP MLA Purnesh Modi in the defamation case against Rahul Gandhi, highlighted that although the Supreme Court temporarily suspended the conviction order, Gandhi’s status as a convict remains unchanged in the eyes of the law.

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Jethmalani clarified that the Supreme Court’s interim order halted the conviction handed down by the Gujarat high court and Surat magisterial court due to insufficient reasons provided for the initial two-year imprisonment sentence.

“The Court stayed the conviction today,” Jethmalani explained, “The Court noted that inadequate reasons were presented to justify the two-year sentence that was previously declared. It emphasized that ample justifications should have been provided for imposing the maximum penalty. Despite the Court’s stay on the conviction today, Gandhi continues to be considered a convict under legal terms,” he conveyed to news agency ANI.

Looking ahead, Jethmalani indicated that he would proceed to appeal in the sessions court to continue the legal battle.

Explaining the concept of a “stay,” Jethmalani elaborated, “A stay implies that the consequences of conviction, such as disqualification, will be put on hold due to insufficient reasons. However, an appeal will now be lodged in the sessions court. The magistrates’ court ruling stands correct both in terms of sentencing and conviction, but owing to the ‘stay,’ Gandhi can resume his position in Parliament.”

Jethmalani expressed his optimism that the evidence presented in the case will ultimately lead to Rahul Gandhi being confirmed as guilty as the legal process unfolds.

The reality is that Rahul Gandhi is a convict,” stated Jethmalani, “As the case proceeds, I believe he will be proven guilty. I cannot predict the Sessions Court’s decision, whether it will uphold the two-year sentence, impose a lesser penalty, or a fine. Nevertheless, the presented evidence is compelling enough that he will not be exonerated from the conviction.”

Meanwhile, the complainant, Purnesh Modi, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision but affirmed his intention to persist with the legal battle.

“Today, the Supreme Court has suspended Rahul Gandhi’s conviction. We appreciate this verdict by the court. Nonetheless, we will continue our legal battle in the court,” Modi asserted.

On March 23, a magisterial court convicted Gandhi for his statement during the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign, in which he questioned, “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” The conviction led to Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP from Kerala’s Wayanad on March 24, following a notification from the Lok Sabha Secretariat under the Representation of People Act.

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