NEW DELHI (TIP): Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi may have to stand trial in a defamation case for blaming the RSS for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination after the Supreme Court on Tuesday told him, “You can’t make wholesale denunciation of an organisation”.
The court’s observation came on Gandhi’s petition that has sought quashing of proceedings against him in a Maharashtra court.
“There is a difference between Nathuram Godse killing Mahatma Gandhi and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) killing him,” a bench headed by justice Dipak Misra said, referring to the ideological parent of the BJP.
“You must face trial, case must be decided on merits whether what you spoke was for public good or not.”
Gandhi’s counsel sought to justify the remarks, arguing they were historical facts. “They are part of government records and also a judgment delivered by the Bombay high court,” senior advocate Harin Raval said.
The court fixed July 27 as the next date of hearing, turning down the 46-year-old leader’s request to defer the case for two weeks as senior advocate Kapil Sibal was unavailable.
“Let someone else argue the matter,” said the bench, also comprising justice RF Nariman. The Amethi MP was not present in the court.
“Purpose of law is not to turn citizens into litigants, history is the biggest enemy of privacy,” the bench said, pointing that law couldn’t be misused even thought the court had upheld criminalisation of defamatory speech.
Gandhi was one of the petitioners who had challenged the criminal defamation law.
Senior advocate MN Krishnamani, counsel for complainant Rajesh Kunte, said his client would withdraw the case if Gandhi apologised for his remarks. Krishnamani had made a similar submission during the previous hearing.
Gandhi has, so far, refused to apologies.
An RSS activist, Kunte had in March 2014 filed a complaint against Gandhi in a Maharashtra court, alleging he had told an election rally that “RSS people killed Gandhiji”.
The Congress leader had in May 2015 challenged the complaint in the Supreme Court.