Gandhi could have limited his speech to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi, and Anil Ambani, but he “intentionally” made a statement that hurt individuals carrying the Modi surname, and thereby committed criminal defamation, the court said in the judgment.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that the BJP-led government wants to get Gandhi removed from Lok Sabha through disqualification as he speaks the truth and exposes it. The court also granted Gandhi bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court, his lawyer Babu Mangukiya said.
Kharge alleged that for a long time now agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Income Tax Department and the Vigilance Commission are being used to suppress the voice of Opposition leaders but now “attempts are being made by taking refuge under laws to silence everyone”. He said Gandhi’s conviction in the defamation case will be appealed in a higher court.
Joshi said the reactions of leaders of Congress make it clear that they don’t respect the institutions of the country. “This is quite evident that they have scant respect for the institutions and they are repeatedly showing it,” Joshi said.
When asked about speculation around the Congress MP’s Lok Sabha membership after the conviction by the Surat court, Joshi said, “Concerned people will examine it (the court order) legally and then we will give a reaction.”