Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi appeared at a Bhiwandi court on Friday in connection with a defamation case filed by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist.
The case was filed by Rajesh Kunte, who objected to his allegation at an election rally in March 6 last year that RSS was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Though the Supreme Court has stayed the proceedings against him, Rahul appeared before magistrate DP Kale in Bhiwandi. The next hearing is on September 30.
The Congress leader, who was in court for 13 minutes, appeared after it issued an ultimatum on the lapse of three dates to appear in court. He later told reporters that he came to honour the commitment given to the court.
"We respect the judiciary that is why I am here. I made a commitment to the court. I am here to fulfil that commitment. I fulfill whatever commitments I make,” Rahul said, adding, “The fight that Gandhiji fought is our fight. We will win this.”
It was a rare appearance of a Gandhi family member in court. Rahul is probably the only Gandhi besides his grandmother, the late Indira Gandhi, to appear before a court.
The Congress leader had moved the Supreme Court, seeking a stay on the Bombay high court order dismissing his plea for quashing the defamation case filed against him for allegedly blaming the RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
Tagging Rahul's petition with that of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s cases already pending with the court, the court said it would only examine the validity of the provisions that permitted initiation of criminal defamation and not go into the merit of the case.
Rahul arrived in Mumbai on Friday on way to Bengaluru and drove to Bhiwandi. Several groups of Congress workers had gathered outside the court.
Narayan Iyer, Rahul’s advocate, said, “During the last hearing, I had given a written assurance on behalf of my client to the court that he will attend next hearing. May 8 was the last day of third hearing. Due to his busy schedule, could not attend the previous hearings. The next hearing is scheduled on September 30.”
“Next hearing at the Supreme Court will be on July 8. If the court gives a favorable order, there will be no need for Rahul Gandhi to attend the next hearing here,” he added.