Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, June 12, pleaded ‘not guilty’ in a defamation case filed by a RSS worker in a trial court in Bhiwandi in 2014.
Earlier, Rahul Gandhi came and took stand in the court. The court framed charges against him and read them out to him.
“(The complainant) says you defamed complainant’s organisation, that is RSS. Reputation of complainant and organisation was harmed … Have you received copies (of this)?” said the judge, to which Rahul replied in the affirmative.
“Do you plead guilty?” the judge asked. “I plead not guilty,” was Rahul’s firm answer.
The court has set August 10 as next date of hearing.
The case was filed against Rahul Gandhi in 2014 by RSS worker Rajesh Kunte. Kunte had filed the case after watching Rahul Gandhi’s speech at an election rally in which he had claimed that the RSS was behind the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.
“The RSS people had killed (Mahatma) Gandhi,” the Congress president had allegedly said in the rally.
The court had on May 2 asked Gandhi to appear before it on June 12 to record his plea. At that time, the court heard arguments on Rahul’s application and sought a detailed recording of evidence instead of a ‘summary trial’, reported The Times of India (TOI).
While the trial in such cases is normally held summarily, Rahul filed an application in April seeking that it be a ‘summons trial’.
“A summary trial is short and will be completed with just submitting the written arguments. We have sought for a summons trial which would go into the in-depth recording of the evidence,” said Rahul’s lawyer at the time, according to the TOI report.
Rahul had earlier moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the case. The apex court however said in July 2016 said the Congress president should not have resorted to “collective denunciation” of an organisation and would have to face trial if he did not express regret for his remark.
The Congress president declined to accept the top court’s suggestion and expressed willingness to face the trial.
“Let the BJP and RSS slap as many cases as they want against me, we will fight them and win,” said the Congress president to the media upon exiting the courtroom.