Rahul Gandhi granted bail



Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has filed an appeal against his conviction and jail sentence in a criminal defamation case.

The court in Gujarat state granted him bail until the next hearing on 13 April.

Mr Gandhi had been sentenced to two years in jail for 2019 comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname at an election rally.

The Congress leader was also later disqualified as a lawmaker.

National elections are due in India next year, and Mr Gandhi will not be allowed to stand unless his conviction is suspended or overturned.

Opposition leaders have accused the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of a political vendetta.

The BJP has denied this, saying that due judicial process was followed in the case.

Mr Gandhi appeared at the court in Surat city with his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other top Congress leaders on Monday afternoon. Many Congress workers had gathered outside the court in support of Mr Gandhi, holding banners with the words “save democracy” on them.

Legal website Live Law reported that Mr Gandhi’s appeal was accompanied by two applications: one to suspend his sentence, or secure bail, and the other to suspend his conviction. A decision in his favour in the second application could lead to his lawmaker status being reinstated, the website said.

Mr Gandhi was granted bail to appeal against his conviction by the judge who passed sentence on 23 March.

The defamation case against him, brought by BJP lawmaker Purnesh Modi, revolved around comments Mr Gandhi made in Karnataka state during an election rally: “Why do all these thieves have Modi as their surname? Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi,” he said.

Nirav Modi is a fugitive Indian diamond tycoon while Lalit Modi is a former chief of the Indian Premier League who has been banned for life by the country’s cricket board.

Purnesh Modi in his complaint alleged that the comments had defamed the entire Modi community. However, Mr Gandhi said that he made the comment to highlight corruption and it was not directed against any community.

(BBC News)


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