- Rahul Gandhi had allegedly blamed the RSS for Mahatma Gandhi’s killing
- Supreme Court refused Mr Gandhi’s petition to cancel the case against him
- The Congress vice president may face trial in the defamation case
NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi, sued for defamation over his comment blaming the RSS for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, was today rebuked by the Supreme Court, which said: “You can’t make collective denunciations.”
Instead of cancelling the lawsuit filed by the RSS, as Mr Gandhi wants, the court today made it clear that the Congress vice president may face trial and announced a hearing on July 27.
Mr Gandhi, 45, had refused the court’s suggestion last year that he apologise and settle the case.
“We have upheld the defamation law. The purpose of the law is to obey law so that there is harmony rather than anarchy,” the court said, asserting that it will decide whether he should be tried for defamation.
To the argument that the defamation law flies in the face of the Constitutional right to freedom of speech, the court said: “Freedom is not crippled or cut. Everyday a writer, politician will speak something. The purpose of the law is not to turn people into litigants.”
The Supreme Court also rejected Mr Gandhi’s request for two weeks’ time – his lawyer and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal will be unavailable – and said someone else can represent him.
Mr Gandhi has been sued by an activist of the RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor – for his comments during the 2014 national election campaign accusing the organization of “killing Gandhi”.
RSS spokesperson MG Vaidya said: “The Congress had been consistently trying to spread lies and baseless allegations about RSS. Today’s ruling has exposed the Congress.”
In November, Mr Gandhi had refused to express regret for his comments. Mr Sibal told the court that his client would prefer to fight his case.
Mr Gandhi, whose mother Sonia is Congress chief, has not held back on his criticism of the RSS in speeches, often describing it as a dictatorial organization that is pulling the BJP-led government’s strings.
Last year, Mr Gandhi attended a court hearing in Maharashtra’s Bhiwandi town – where the defamation case was filed – even though the Supreme Court had said he could skip it.