New Delhi: Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi on Thursday appeared before a magisterial court in Surat in connection with a defamation case filed against him for saying ‘why all thieves share the Modi surname’ during his election campaign for Lok Sabha this year. In the court, he has filed an application for a permanent exemption from personally appearing in the court. The matter will be heard next on December 10.

Before his arrival in Gujarat for the court hearing, Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said that the party is power should listen to the criticism of the Opposition members.

“In a democracy, the party in power should tolerate criticism of the opposition. Rahul ji had said Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi are thieves, and Narendra Modi is a failure. The BJP connected his statement to Modi community and insulted them,” he said.

Another Congress leader Ahmed Patel also echoed the same thing and said let the law take its own course. “He was summoned so he has come here. Let the law take its own course. We will see when the court takes a decision. Whatever the judge says will be done,” he added.

Rahul appeared before the court after Chief Judicial Magistrate BH Kapadia summoned him in July this year. He was summoned after a complaint was filed against him by local BJP MLA Purnesh Modi under IPC sections 499 and 500, which deal with criminal defamation.

During the election campaign for Lok Sabha, Rahul in Karnataka had on April 13 said, “Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi, how come they all have Modi as a common surname? How come all thieves have Modi as common surname?”

Apart from today, the Gandhi scion will also appear before a Court in Ahmadabad on October 11 in connection with another defamation case filed against him by Ahmadabad District Cooperative Bank. Rahul is also facing another defamation cases in Ahmedabad for calling Union Home Minister Amit Shah a ‘murder accused’.