Rahul Gandhi today appeared before a magistrate court in Bhiwandi (Thane) in connection with the hearing in the RSS defamation case over his alleged comments blaming people from the saffron fountainhead for the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.
The court adjourned till March 3 the hearing for recording the plea of the Congress Vice President, who has preferred to face trial as an accused in the defamation case.
In a brief interaction later with waiting media outside the court, Rahul said that his fight is against the ideology which killed Mahatma Gandhi. The case against Rahul was filed by a local RSS functionary Rajesh Kunte over the former’s speech in Bhiwandi on March 6, 2014 in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls.
During the rally, Rahul had allegedly claimed, “The RSS people had killed Gandhi.”
Prior to the adjournment, Rahul’s lawyers Ashok Mundergi and Narayan Iyer told the court that they have not received the copy of the entire newspaper (which published the news item on the Congress leader) but only the cuttings.
However, Nandu Phadke, advocate of the complainant in the case, urged the court that Rahul’s plea may be recorded today but his request was turned down.
Rahul arrived in the court here at around 12.30 PM amid tight security accompanied by senior Congress leaders Ashok Chavan and Sanjay Nirupam, besides party supporters.
At the last hearing in November, the Bhiwandi court had granted him bail in the case after former Union Minister Shivraj Patil stood surety.
When Mundargi had requested for a date and sought the court to exempt Rahul from personal appearance, owing to his political commitments, the complainant’s lawyer had urged that Rahul may be treated as an “ordinary citizen” and adjourned the hearing till today.
On September 1 last year, Rahul had preferred to face the trial as an accused in the defamation case, submitting before the Supreme Court that he stood by “every word” of his statement.
Rahul had expressed his readiness to face the trial after the apex court refused to interfere with the proceedings pending against him before the trial court.
He had then withdrawn the appeal filed by him against the Bombay High Court judgement refusing to quash the defamation case and summons issued to him by the trial court.
The apex court also declined Rahul’s plea that he be exempted from personal appearance before the Bhiwandi court which had taken cognisance of the complaint of the RSS functionary by summoning him as an accused in the case.