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Court exempts Rahul Gandhi from appearing in RSS defamation case

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been granted permanent exemption from appearing before a Bhiwandi court in Maharashtra in a criminal defamation case filed by an RSS worker.

The court observed that Gandhi deserves a permanent exemption and set June 3 for recording evidence in the case.

The case was filed by Rajesh Kunte, a local RSS worker, who claimed that Gandhi had defamed the RSS by accusing it of being responsible for Mahatma Gandhi’s death in one of his speeches in 2014.

Gandhi had pleaded not guilty when he appeared before the court in June 2018.

The court order,stated that Gandhi is exempted from appearance in the court till further order, subject to certain conditions.

One of them is that his designated advocate should appear regularly and conduct the trial in his absence. Another is that he should be present in court whenever directed.

Gandhi had sought exemption from appearance last year on the grounds that he was a Delhi resident and a Lok Sabha member who had to visit his constituency (Wayanad), attend party work and travel a lot. He had requested that he be allowed to be represented by his lawyer whenever required.

Kunte had opposed the exemption application and argued that since Gandhi is no longer a parliamentarian, he should not be given an exemption.

Gandhi was disqualified as an MP after his conviction by a Surat court in another defamation case over his “why all thieves have Modi surname” remarks.

He was sentenced to two years in jail but was granted bail and suspended sentence for 30 days to appeal in a higher court.

A Surat court on March 23 convicted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a criminal defamation case over his comments on the “Modi surname” and sentenced him to two years in jail. The court also gave him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to enable him to appeal in a higher court. He was disqualified as a Lok Sabha MP the next day.

The case was filed by BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi, who alleged that Gandhi had insulted the RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi by saying “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” during a rally in Karnataka in 2019.

Gandhi had appeared before the court in October 2021 to record his statement and had denied any wrongdoing. The court had completed the final arguments from both sides last week and pronounced its verdict on Tuesday.

Congress workers gathered in Surat to show their support for Gandhi.

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