Congress president says he will fight and win
Mumbai: A magistrate court in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra, framed charges against Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday in a criminal defamation case filed against him by an RSS worker.
Gandhi has been accused of defaming the RSS by purportedly blaming it for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination at a rally in 2014.
The magistrate charged Gandhi under sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code.
After reading out and explaining the charges to him, the court asked Gandhi if he wanted to plead guilty, to which he responded by pleading not guilty.
The Congress president was allowed to leave court after these proceedings and greeted the crowd waiting outside.
Speaking to the media outside the court premises, Gandhi said, “Let them (the BJP and the RSS) slap as many cases as they want against me. Ours is a fight of ideology. We will fight them and win.”
Gandhi’s lawyer Narayan Iyer said, “The court agreed to our plea to convert the case into a summons trial (from a summary one). The next hearing is scheduled on August 10.”
The summons or detailed trial is one in which where there is a detailed recording of evidence in the case, as against a summary trial, which is based on a summary of the evidence recorded by the court.
In a summons trial, Iyer said, the applicant can demand the recording of witness testimonies, and both defence and prosecution can produce evidence they possess.
While speaking to reporters, Gandhi slammed Prime Minister NarendraModi for not talking about employment for youth and farmers. “Our fight is against the policies of the prime minister. Farmers are frustrated and the prime minister does not talk about employment for youth. This government is only for the rich,” Gandhi told reporters.
He also took a swipe at Modi’s radio programme ‘Mann kiBaat’ and said the prime minister does not speak about ‘kaamkibaat’ like providing employment to youth or safeguarding farmers.
The defamation case against Gandhi was filed by RSS worker Rajesh Kunte, 43, on March 6, 2014 over the Congress president’s speech at a rally in Bhiwandi. Kunte alleged that Gandhi had indirectly suggested that RSS workers killed Mahatma Gandhi.
Acting on Kunte’s complaint, the magistrate court had on July 11, 2014, summoned Gandhi to face trial.
On March 10, 2015, the Bombay high court turned down Gandhi’s plea to quash the defamation case and refused to give him more time. Gandhi then moved Supreme Court with a special leave petition seeking permission to challenge the high court decision. He later withdrew the petition, expressed his willingness to face trial and said he would not apologise.
Gandhi has appeared in the same court on couple of occasion over the past three years.