The court said it will give a final verdict on Gandhi’s plea to stay his conviction after the summer vacation. May 5 is the last working day for the HC and it is slated to reopen on June 5.
A stay on conviction could pave the way for Gandhi’s reinstatement as a Lok Sabha member.
During an earlier hearing on April 29, Gandhi’s lawyer had argued that a maximum punishment of two years for a bailable, non-cognisable offence meant he could lose his Lok Sabha seat “permanently and irreversibly”, which was a “very serious additional irreversible consequence to the person and the constituency he represents”.
The alleged offence was non-serious in nature and did not involve moral turpitude, and yet Gandhi’s disqualification, because of not staying his conviction, would affect him as well as the people of his constituency, Gandhi’s lawyer had said.
The court of Justice Hemant Prachchhak had allowed the lawyer for complainant Purnesh Modi to submit additional documents opposing Gandhi’s criminal revision application against the Surat sessions court order rejecting his plea to stay his conviction and kept the matter for hearing on May 2.
A Surat court had on March 23 sentenced Gandhi, who represented Wayanad parliamentary constituency in Kerala, to two years in jail after convicting him under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code for criminal defamation in the case filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Purnesh Modi.
MLA Modi filed a criminal defamation case against Gandhi over his “how come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?” remark made during an election rally at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019.
On April 3, Gandhi’s lawyer approached the sessions court with two applications, one for bail and another for a stay on conviction pending his appeal, along with his main appeal against the lower court’s order sentencing him to two years in jail.
While the court granted Gandhi bail, it rejected his plea for a stay on conviction.
Last Wednesday, Justice Gita Gopi of Gujarat HC recused herself from hearing the case after it was presented before her for an urgent hearing. The matter was then assigned to Justice Prachchhak.
(With inputs from agencies)