‘RSS killed the Mahatma’: SC to hear Rahul Gandhi’s appeal in defamation case

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 24, 2016 10:59 IST
Congress vice-president at the Parliament House during the monsoon session. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s petition to quash the defamation case filed against him by an activist of the RSS over his remarks that the saffron organisation was responsible for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra will take up the petition at 2pm. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal is likely to argue for Gandhi.

Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh worker Rajesh Kunte filed a defamation complaint before a Thane district court in 2014 alleging the Congress VP had said that “RSS had assassinated Mahatma Gandhi” during an election rally in Bhiwandi.

Gandhi was reported as saying, “RSS people killed Gandhi ji. They opposed Sardar Patel and Gandhi ji.”

In his complaint, Kunte said Gandhi sought to tarnish the reputation of the RSS through his speech. Following the complaint, the magistrate issued a notice to Gandhi, directing his personal appearance. The trial court proceedings against Gandhi was stayed on May 7 last year.

Gandhi moved the top court in May 2015 seeking a stay on the Bombay high court order dismissing his plea for quashing the defamation case. His matter was, however, not heard since the same bench was seized of petitions, including one filed by Gandhi, challenging the validity of the defamation law under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Earlier in May, justice Misra’s bench dismissed the petitions and upheld the legality of the IPC sections.

On July 19, the SC remarked against Gandhi for indulging in ‘collective denunciation’ against an organisation and said it’s wrong. It said the Congress leader might have to face the trial to prove his defence that his statement was an assertion of a historical fact.

Gandhi’s counsel told the court that he was within his right to free speech. They have maintained that the complaint is motivated and malafide and should be quashed.

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