Ahmedabad: A court in Ahmedabad on Tuesday granted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi a permanent exemption from appearance in a criminal defamation case he is facing over remarks against Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate RB Etaliya allowed Mr Gandhi’s plea seeking exemption, his lawyer said.
The Congress leader is facing the case for calling Mr Shah a “murder accused” at an election rally in Rajasthan before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Gandhi’s lawyer had last September sought permanent exemption from appearance before the court for his client, stating that he was a leader of a national political party and had a busy schedule.
Hearing on the plea was delayed first due to adjournments sought by the lawyer for the complainant, BJP corporator Krishnavadan Brahmbhatt.
When Mr Brahmbhatt’s lawyer SV Raju was appointed Additional Solicitor General of India, and consequently needed permission of the Union Ministry of Law and Justice to appear in the case, it caused further delay.
The order on Mr Gandhi’s plea for permanent exemption from appearance is another criminal defamation case, filed by Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and its Chairman Ajay Patel, is also reserved for order by another city court, said Mr Gandhi’s lawyer PS Champaneri.
In the present case, Mr Brahmbhatt has said in his complaint that the slur used by Mr Gandhi was slanderous as Mr Shah was discharged in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh fake encounter case in 2015.
In January 2020, Mr Gandhi appeared before the court and pleaded “not guilty”. He was granted bail.
Ajay Patel’s complaint of defamation is about Mr Gandhi’s claim that the cooperative bank was involved in a “scam” where scrapped currency of ₹ 750 crore was swapped with valid currency within five days of demonetization in 2016.