Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday was granted exemption from personal appearance by a court in Surat in a criminal defamation case filed by a Gujarat MLA over his "Modi surname" remark. The court posted the matter for further hearing on 10th October.
The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate BH Kapadia last week had issued summons to Gandhi after finding that there was prima facie a case of criminal defamation against him under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
When the case was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, Gandhi's lawyer Kirit Panwala moved the exemption application, saying his client received summons only a few days back and it was difficult for him to appear personally at such short notice due to his prior commitments.
The court then granted Gandhi exemption from personal appearance and kept the next hearing on October 10th.
The court earlier issued summons to Gandhi on a complaint filed on 16th April by BJP MLA Purnesh Modi under IPC Sections 499 and 500 that deal with criminal defamation. The MLA from Surat-West seat claimed Gandhi was defaming the entire Modi community by his remark that "how come all thieves have Modi as the common surname".
He was referring to an election rally at Kolar in Karnataka on 13th April, where Gandhi asked, "Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi...how come they all have Modi as a common surname? How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?"
Last week, Gandhi had appeared before an Ahmedabad court on the summons issued in another criminal defamation case filed by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and its chairman Ajay Patel over the Congress leader's tweet allegedly defaming the bank.
In another case of the criminal defamation case in Ahmedabad, a metropolitan court last week reissued summons to Gandhi for calling Union minister Amit Shah a "murder accused".