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Dhaka Tribune

Rahul Gandhi appeals to India's top court over conviction

Gandhi filed an appeal asking the Supreme Court to stay his conviction, multiple Indian media reports said

Update : 15 Jul 2023, 10:38 PM

Top Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi appealed to the country's highest court on Saturday over his conviction for defamation, days after a lower court refused to intervene, media reports said.

Gandhi was sentenced to two years' jail for comments he made in 2019 which a court ruled were insulting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and those sharing his last name. 

That made him ineligible to remain a member of parliament, or to stand in next year's election.

Modi's government has been widely accused of using the defamation law to silence critics. 

Gandhi filed an appeal asking the Supreme Court to stay his conviction, multiple Indian media reports said, a week after the Gujarat High Court refused to do so.

Officials of Gandhi's Congress party did not immediately respond to requests by AFP for comment.

But earlier this month, party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters: "We have no doubt that this intersection of arrogance and infallibility shown by this government of the day and ruling party of the day will be dealt with properly in the Supreme Court."

The case -- one of several lodged against Gandhi in recent years -- has so far only been heard by courts in Gujarat, Modi's home state.

Gandhi is the scion of India's premier political dynasty and the son, grandson and great-grandson of former prime ministers, beginning with independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru. 

He is the leading face of the Congress party, once the dominant force in Indian politics but now a shadow of its former self.

His conviction stemmed from a remark made during the 2019 election campaign when he asked why "all thieves have Modi as (their) common surname."

Members of Modi's government said the remark was a slur against all Indians with the surname Modi, which is associated with the lower rungs of India's traditional caste hierarchy.

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