India, Oct. 10 -- Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday appeared before a Surat court in a defamation case and pleaded not guilty, reports news agency PTI.

BJP MLA Purnesh Modi had filed a complaint against Gandhi under IPC sections 499 and 500 which deal with criminal defamation for allegedly saying "why all thieves share the Modi surname" during Lok Sabha elections campaign earlier this year. Chief Judicial Magistrate B H Kapadia had in May issued summons to Gandhi after admitting the complaint.

In his complaint, Purnesh Modi, the MLA? from Surat-West seat, had claimed Gandhi had defamed the entire Modi community by his remark "how come all thieves have Modi as common surname". He was referring to an election rally where Gandhi ask...