Ahmedabad | A Gujarat High Court judge on Wednesday recused herself from hearing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's appeal challenging the order of the Surat sessions court that declined to stay his conviction in a criminal defamation case over his "Modi surname" remark.
Gandhi's lawyer P S Champaneri mentioned the case before the court of Justice Gita Gopi, seeking an urgent hearing. But after a brief hearing, the court said, "Not before me." The development comes a day after Gandhi filed the appeal in the high court.
Champaneri said the court earlier granted him permission to circulate the matter for Wednesday, but when it came up for hearing, it recused itself from hearing the case.
Now, a note will be sent to the Acting Chief Justice to place the matter before any other court, he said.
The case was requested to be taken up in the court of Justice Gita Gopi because her court deals with the subject of criminal revision, Champaneri added.
A metropolitan magistrate's court in Surat on March 23 sentenced the former Congress president to two years in jail after convicting him under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500 (dealing with criminal defamation) in the 2019 case filed by Gujarat Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Purnesh Modi.
Following the verdict, Gandhi, elected to the Lok Sabha from Wayanad in Kerala in 2019, was disqualified as a Member of Parliament (MP) under provisions of the Representation of the People Act.
Gandhi challenged the order in a sessions court in Surat along with an application to stay his conviction. While granting him bail, the court on April 20 rejected the Congress leader's application for a stay on his conviction.
BJP MLA and former cabinet minister Purnesh Modi had 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.
A stay order could pave the way for Gandhi's reinstatement as Member of Parliament.
Gandhi is currently on bail in the case.