SURAT: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to appear before a magisterial court here on Thursday to defend himself in a criminal defamation case filed against him for saying "why all thieves share the Modi surname" during the Lok Sabha poll campaign this year.
Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda on Tuesday held a meeting with local party leaders in view of Gandhi's upcoming visit.
He told media persons that the former Congress president would appear before the court here on October 10.
"Rahulji will be accorded a grand welcome by our party workers on the entire route from the airport to the court," Chavda said.
Chief Judicial Magistrate B H Kapadia had in May issued summons to Gandhi after admitting a complaint filed by local BJP MLA Purnesh Modi under IPC sections 499 and 500, which deal with criminal defamation.
During the last hearing in July, the court had granted Gandhi exemption from personal appearance, slating October 10 as the next date of hearing.
In his complaint, the BJP legislator from Surat-West had alleged the Congress leader had defamed the entire Modi community with his remark "how come all thieves have Modi as common surname", made during the Lok Sabha campaign.
The court, while admitting the suit, had held that there was a prima facie case of criminal defamation against the Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad.
At a campaign rally at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, Gandhi had reportedly said, "Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi...how come they all have Modi as common surname? How come all thieves have Modi as common surname?" In his complaint, Purnesh Modi had said the Congress leader had defamed the entire Modi community with his statement.
Gandhi is also facing two other defamation suits in Ahmedabad -- one for calling Union Home Minister Amit Shah a "murder accused" and another for claiming that Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, where Shah is a director, was involved in a "scam" scrapped currency notes with face value of Rs 750 crore were exchanged with valid bills within five days of demonetisation in 2016.
Though the next date of hearing in both these cases is October 11, lawyers claimed Gandhi's appearance in Ahmedabad courts may not be needed at this juncture.