Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that he didn’t blame the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as an institution but only some people associated with the Hindu group for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.
Rahul’s counsel, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, made the statement before a bench headed by justice Dipak Misra and told court that the Congress leader had said so in an affidavit filed in 2014 before the Bombay high court where he moved a petition to quash the criminal defamation case against him by an RSS member.
Virtually taking a U-turn on the controversial declaration, Sibal said: “I (Rahul) never accused the RSS of the crime. I have denied it specifically. …never accused RSS as an institution of the crime.” On an earlier date, Rahul’s advocate had said he had reiterated a historical fact and refused to apologise, as advised by the court for indulging in “collective denunciation” of an institution.
The bench perused the affidavit Sibal showed it and indicated quashing the case. But senior advocate UR Lalit, counsel for Rakesh Kunte — complainant against Rahul — said he required time to consult his client and took time till September 1. The court, however, recorded Sibal’s statement.
During the hearing, justice Misra told Sibal to explain whether Rahul accused RSS of the killing or not, to which Sibal said the court cannot compel him to make a statement as the merits of the allegations should be determined in the trial.
But the court persisted. “If you admit (justify the allegation) then this whole thing may go against you. If you deny it the whole thing (defamation case) goes out.”
Sibal then asserted: “I (Rahul) never accused RSS as an institution of the crime.”
Rahul moved the Supreme Court in May 2015 against the Bombay high court order dismissing his plea for quashing the case.
Kunte had filed a defamation suit in Thane district court in 2014, alleging Rahul, at an election rally in Bhiwandi, had said that “the RSS had assassinated Mahatma Gandhi”.