Finally, Rahul Gandhi is all set to file an appeal against his conviction: Here's what we know!

Ten days after getting convicted in a criminal defamation case with a two-year prison sentence that led to revoke his Lok Sabha membership, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is all set to legally challenge the conviction as he would be appealing against the verdict that was pronounced by a Surat court in Gujarat on March 23, 2023. 

The case and his conviction have sparked turmoil across the country with both the Congress and BJP leaders are locking horns with the former accusing the latter of curbing Rahul Gandhi's entry into the Parliament in the wake of his sharp questions over the affair between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and business tycoon Gautam Adani. The Congress leader has been leading the charge against the BJP regime over aiding Adani and advancing his business empire. 

Rahul Gandhi's conviction has come at a high time when he was attacking the government with his charges. On March 23, he was convicted with the two-year jail term in a four-year-old case and the next day - March 24, he was disqualified as a Lok Sabha MP under the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The law says that if an MP or an MLA gets incarceration for two years or more, they would be disqualified immediately. The law also bars the convicted representative from contesting the elections for six years, excluding the prison term. 

If their conviction has been overturned or suspended by a higher court, the revocation of their membership from the Assembly or from the Parliament will be repealed. In Rahul Gandhi's case, the Surat court convicted him but suspended his two-year prison sentence for 30 days from the time of the verdict. By granting bail for 30 days, the court has offered an ultimatum to move an appeal petition to challenge the verdict. 

After acknowledging the verdict, Rahul Gandhi had several rounds of discussion with his legal team to frame the way forward. However, there were no firm assertions from the Gandhi camp about when he would move his appeal to a higher court. Earlier last week, it was said that the preparations for the appeal plea were over and Rahul Gandhi will soon fly to Surat to file his appeal petition. 

In the midst of nationwide spotlight on his stage, Rahul Gandhi is now ready for a legal battle against his conviction and he would be moving his appeal petition on Monday - April 3. PTI quoted the sources saying that during his trip to Surat, Rahul Gandhi will be accompanied by his sister Priyanka Gandhi, chief ministers of three Congress-ruling states, and by senior leaders of the party. 

Rahul Gandhi will be filing his appeal in a sessions court in Surat and senior Congress leader and advocate Abhishek Singhvi has led the process of preparing the appeal petition. He will be landing in Surat at around 2 pm on Monday and Rahul Gandhi's legal team has cited that the matter will likely be taken up for hearing on Monday itself. In his petition, Rahul Gandhi would seek a directive to suspend his sentence and conviction. If his conviction has been suspended, he would resume his membership in the Lok Sabha. 

Recap of Rahul Gandhi's case and conviction

Speaking at an election rally in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, "Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, and Narendra come they all have common surnames? How come all the thieves have 'Modi' as surnames?".  As his remark gained traction, BJP MLA in Gujarat, Purnesh Modi lodged a complaint against Rahul Gandhi. Based on his plaint, a criminal defamation case was filed against the Congress leader in Gujarat under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code. 

The Chief Judicial magistrate court in Surat was hearing the case and the verdict was pronounced on March 23 in which Judge HH Varma said that Rahul Gandhi was found guilty to the charges. As the maximum possible punishment under this section is two years, Rahul Gandhi was awarded two-year prison sentence and a fine of Rs 15,000. His sentence was suspended to allow him to challenge the verdict. 

Following the verdict that has become a historical judgment amid a political slugfest between both the national rivals, the Lok Sabha Secretariat on March 24 announced that Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified as an MP after getting convicted in the case with two-year prison sentence. Though the sentence was suspended, the conviction was held valid, which led to the revocation of his Lok Sabha membership. His Lok Sabha seat, Wayanad from Kerala, was also declared vacant following his disqualification.