New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi, sued for defamation over his comment blaming the RSS for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, was on Tuesday rebuked by the Supreme Court, which said: “You can’t make collective denunciations.”
The court, responding to Mr Gandhi’s petition to cancel the case against him, posted another hearing to next week and also indicated that he may face trial. “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 examine whether the Congress number 2’s comments qualify as 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 law is not to turn people to into litigants.”
The court refused to give Mr Gandhi two weeks – his lawyer and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal will be unavailable at the time – said someone else can argue.
Mr Gandhi, 45, has been sued by an activist of the RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor – for allegedly blaming the organization for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi while campaigning for the 2014 national election.
In November, he had rejected the court’s suggestion that he express regret and settle the case. Mr Sibal told the court that Mr Gandhi would rather argue his case.
Mr Gandhi, whose mother Sonia is Congress chief, has not held back on criticizing the RSS in his 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.