Rahul Gandhi exempted from personal appearance in defamation case in Surat

The court then granted Gandhi exemption from personal appearance and kept the next hearing on October 10. (File)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was granted exemption from personal appearance by Surat district court Tuesday in a criminal defamation case filed by a BJP MLA over his Modi surname remark.

On July 9, the court had issued summons to the Congress leader asking him or his lawyer to be present on Tuesday for the hearing. The court posted the matter for further hearing on October 10.

On Tuesday afternoon, advocate Kirit Panwala, who is also the president of the Surat District Bar Association, moved the exemption application, saying Gandhi received summons only five days ago and it was difficult for him to appear personally in such a short notice owing to his prior commitments.

The complainant, Purnesh Modi, is a BJP MLA from Surat West alleged that Gandhi defamed the Modi community when he compared Prime Minister Modi to economic offenders Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi and, in a public meeting in Karnataka in Bengaluru on April 13, Gandhi had allegedly said, Why all chors (thieves) have the surname Modi .

The complainant is also the president of the Surat Modhvanik Samast Panch whose members include people of the Modi community.

Panwala said, The court summons were received five days ago, and due to his busy schedule, Gandhi could not be present in the court.