Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday pleaded not guilty in the defamation case against him for his 'all thieves share the Modi surname’ remark. Gandhi made the remark as the Surat court deferred till December 10 the hearing on the defamation case filed against him by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi.
Rahul Gandhi lawyers also moved an application seeking a permanent exemption from personal appearance in the next hearings. After Modi's lawyers raised an objection to the exemption plea, the court said it will decide on the plea on December 10. The court exempted Rahul Gandhi from being present during the next hearing on that date.
Chief Judicial Magistrate B H Kapadia had in May issued summons to Gandhi after admitting a complaint filed by local BJP MLA Purnesh Modi under IPC sections 499 and 500, which deal with criminal defamation.
During the last hearing in July, the court had granted Gandhi exemption from personal appearance for that hearing and fixed October 10 as the next date of hearing.
Rahul Gandhi, back in the country, was welcomed by party workers in Surat on Thursday.
In his complaint, Modi had alleged the Congress leader had defamed the entire Modi community with his remark, made during the Lok Sabha campaign this year. The court, while admitting the suit, had held that there was a prima facie case of criminal defamation against the Lok Sabha member from Wayanad.
At a campaign rally at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, Gandhi had said, "Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi... how come they all have Modi as common surname? How come all thieves have Modi as common surname?"