Supreme Court Refuses AAP MP's Plea in PM Modi Degree Defamation Case

Supreme Court rejects AAP MP Sanjay Singh's plea in defamation case over PM Modi's academic degree remarks. Trial to proceed as per court's decision.

The Supreme Court's recent refusal to entertain Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Sanjay Singh's plea concerning summons issued to him in a defamation case has underscored the complexities surrounding the legal saga revolving around remarks made about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's academic credentials. This development, heard by Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta, stems from Singh's challenge to a Gujarat High Court order, which had earlier observed the preservation of all contentions available to the parties.

Singh's representation in the apex court today was led by Senior Advocates Rebecca John and Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi. They argued vehemently that the complaint ought to have been initiated by the Public Prosecutor, given Gujarat University's classification as a 'State' under Article 12 of the Constitution. Moreover, the Senior Counsels emphasized that Singh's statements did not amount to defamation of the University.

However, the Supreme Court remained firm in its stance, indicating that it was not convinced to intervene. The bench emphasized that all contentions raised by Singh and his legal team would appropriately be addressed as matters of defense during the trial proceedings. This decision highlights the Court's adherence to procedural protocols and its reluctance to preempt the trial process.

This legal battle has its origins in a defamation case filed by Gujarat University against Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, and Sanjay Singh, an AAP MP. The case was triggered by remarks made by Kejriwal and Singh regarding PM Modi's academic degree. The University, represented by its registrar Dr Piyush M Patel, alleged that the duo had made sarcastic and defamatory statements during press conferences and on social media platforms targeting the institution over the Prime Minister's educational qualifications.

The legal entanglement escalated in April 2023 when Kejriwal and Singh were summoned to appear before a Magistrate Court in Ahmedabad. Their subsequent attempt to challenge the summons and seek a stay on trial proceedings before the Sessions Court was unsuccessful. The Sessions Court dismissed their revision applications, prompting them to approach the Gujarat High Court.

The Gujarat High Court, while issuing notices to the opposing party, declined to stay the trial proceedings. This decision prompted Kejriwal to approach the Supreme Court, seeking relief. However, his plea was rejected, as the High Court was already seized of the matter.

In parallel, Singh had sought the transfer of the trial outside Gujarat, which was denied initially. Nonetheless, the trial proceedings concerning Singh were stayed until the plea for interim relief was decided by the Gujarat High Court.

In February, the Gujarat High Court dismissed the pleas filed by Kejriwal and Singh against the Sessions Court's order affirming the summons. The High Court's rationale was that since the petitioners were only summoned, there were no grounds to interfere with the orders, and no defense could be entertained at that stage.