Rahul takes U-turn, says he didn't blame RSS for killing Gandhi

Cong VP seeks to reinforce claim by citing from his affidavit in Bombay HC; SC says defamation suit may be dismissed if petitioner agrees; defers hearing to Sept 1

Published: 25th August 2016 04:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th August 2016 12:49 PM   |  A+A-

No U-turn by Rahul Gandhi on RSS role: Digivjay 

NEW DELHI: In a U-turn, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that he never blamed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)  as an institution for killing Mahatma Gandhi, but persons associated with it were behind the assassination.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Rahul, cited an affidavit filed by him in the Bombay High Court while challenging the summons issued to him as an accused in the alleged defamatory statement in a 2015 election rally in Maharashtra.

“I never made the statement that RSS killed Mahatma Gandhi but persons associated with the RSS killed him,” Sibal said as Rahul’s counsel. Rahul buttressed his stand by citing paragraphs from his affidavit filed in the Bombay High Court.

The clarification assumes significance since on July 19, the Bench had categorically told

Rahul’s lawyer that a collective denunciation without any proof prima-facie amounted to defamation and if he cannot establish that he had made such a statement for the public good, he will have to either apologise or face trial.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the Bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and R F Nariman said if the complainant agrees to the submission, it will take the statement on record and dispose of the petition and said, “What we understand is that the accused never blamed RSS as an institution that killed Mahatma Gandhi but the persons associated with it were responsible for the killing.”

The Bench indicated it would pass an order on September 1 that Gandhi has unequivocally stated that he had never blamed the RSS as an institution for the assassination but persons associated with it had killed Mahatma Gandhi. The court directed senior advocate Lalit appearing for Rajesh Mahadev Kunte, secretary of Bhiwandi Unit of RSS and the complainant, to take instructions on the option of disposing of the matter and posted it on September 1. Lalit said he would take instruction on whether the statement, given in the affidavit, is taken on record, then the petition can be disposed of or not.

During the hearing, Sibal too questioned Kunte’s statement before the police and said the police had no role whatsoever in a private defamation case.

Rahul, facing a defamation complaint for his remarks allegedly accusing RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, has sought its quashing from the apex court which had observed that the Congress leader should not have resorted to collective denunciation of an organisation (RSS) and will have to face trial if he does not express regret.

Earlier, the Bench had questioned the speech and wondered “why he had made a speech quoting wrong historical fact”.

The penal provisions make defamation an offence punishable with up to a two-year jail term.

Kunte had alleged that the Congress leader had sought to tarnish the reputation of RSS through his speech. Following the complaint, the magistrate’s court had initiated proceedings and issued notice to Rahul directing him to appear before it.

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