Surat, April 2: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will be in Gujarat's Surat city on Monday to file an appeal before a sessions court against his conviction in a criminal defamation case, his lawyer said on Sunday. Gandhi will be present in the sessions court to file the plea challenging a metropolitan court's order which sentenced him to two years in jail, party sources said.

"Rahul Gandhi will reach the sessions court in Surat to file an appeal at around 3 pm," his lawyer Kirit Panwala said. Senior Congress leaders will also be in Surat when Gandhi arrives on Monday afternoon, party sources said.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma here had on March 23 convicted Gandhi and sentenced him to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his “Modi surname” remarks. It had held 52-year-old Gandhi guilty under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 and 500. Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi Lauds India's Tiger Conservation Programme.

The court had also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to appeal in a higher court. Gandhi was present in the court when it had pronounced the verdict in the case.

The former Congress chief was on March 24 disqualified from the Lok Sabha following his conviction by the Surat court in the case. Following his disqualification, Gandhi would not be able to contest elections for eight years unless a higher court stays his conviction and sentence.

The case was filed against Gandhi on a complaint by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA and former Gujarat minister Purnesh Modi for the Congress leader's alleged remarks “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?”

Gandhi, who had served as an MP from Wayanad in Kerala, made the remarks while addressing a rally at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019 during the Lok Sabha elections campaign.

The sentence of two years invited his disqualification from the membership of Parliament under provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The RP Act holds that an MP or a member of legislative Assembly (MLA) convicted for any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of conviction.

Gandhi had campaigned for the Congress before the Gujarat Assembly polls held in December 2022. His party won just 17 out of the total 182 seats, its worst poll performance since the formation of the state in 1960. Modi Surname Remark Case: Patna Court Directs Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi to Appear Before Court On April 12.

In his complaint, BJP MLA Purnesh Modi had alleged that Gandhi, while addressing the poll rally in 2019, defamed the entire Modi community by purportedly saying, “How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?”

Purnesh Modi was a minister in the first tenure of the Bhupendra Patel government. The ruling party legislator was re-elected from the Surat West Assembly seat in the elections held in December last year.