A Bhiwandi court in Maharashtra on Tuesday slapped charges against Congress president Rahul Gandhi for allegedly passing defamatory remarks against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at an election rally back in 2014. The court accepted an earlier application moved by Gandhi’s lawyers, who, on May 2, sought for a detailed recording of evidence instead of a ‘summary trial’. Hearing the arguments last month, the court had ordered Rahul Gandhi to appear before it on June 12.
While the Congress president pleaded not guilty, the court said that the next hearing on the matter will be held on August 10. According to Gandhi’s lawyers, his presence at the court would not be required.
What is the defamation case against Rahul Gandhi?
While addressing an election rally on March 6, 2014, in Maharashtra’s Thane district, the then Congress vice-president had alleged that the RSS was behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The Congress leader was then quoted by PTI as saying: “RSS people killed Gandhiji and today their people (BJP) talk of him…They opposed Sardar Patel and Gandhiji.”
Following the incident, a defamation suit was filed by Rajesh Kunte, the secretary of Bhiwandi unit of RSS, against the Congress President in a Maharashtra court. He had accused the Congress leader of tarnishing the reputation of the Sangh through his speech.
What are the charges framed against Rahul Gandhi?
Rahul Gandhi has been charged under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code that deal with defamation. Nandu Phadke, the lawyer for Kunte, had said, “The court framed charges against Rahul under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code that deal with defamation. Now that the charges are filed, the court will hear evidence from both sides.”
Rahul Gandhi on the charges
After leaving the courtroom, Rahul Gandhi took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not talking about the rising fuel prices. The Congress President said, “Let the government keep filing cases against me. The current government is just run by around 10 -15 rich people who are making all the profits. Modiji will not talk about the fuel price hike.”