A day after the Supreme Court stayed all trial court proceedings against Rahul Gandhi in a criminal defamation case filed against him, the Congress vice president appeared before the trial court in Bhiwandi on Friday to ‘honour commitment’.
The Amethi MP appeared before the magisterial court in Bhiwandi in Thane district of Maharashtra despite the SC exempting from making personal appearance.
The Congress vice president presented himself before Magistrate DP Kale in line with the commitment given by his counsel on March 30. The court posted the case for September 30.
Rahul, who spent less than 15 minutes in court, told reporters that he had come to honour the commitment given to the court.
“We respect the judiciary, that is why I am here. I had made a commitment to the court. I am here to fulfil that commitment,” Rahul said in a post on his official twitter handle.
The Congress leader had moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the Bombay High Court order dismissing his plea for quashing the defamation case filed against him for allegedly blaming the RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
“There shall be stay of further proceedings in a case pending before the trial court till the next date of hearing,” a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and PC Pant said.
RSS activist Rajesh Kunte had alleged that the Congress leader had accused the saffron outfit of killing Mahatma Gandhi at a rally in the run-up to last year’s Lok Sabha polls.
According to the RSS activist, the Congress vice president had told an election rally at Sonale on March 6, 2014 that “RSS people killed Gandhiji”.
He had further accused Gandhi of trying to tarnish the reputation of the Sangh through his speech.
Fixing the next date of hearing on July 8, the court also made it clear that in the event of any failure to file response to Gandhi’s petition, the date of final hearing will not be changed.
Tagging Gandhi’s petition with that of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal cases already pending with the court, the court said it would only examine the validity of the provisions that permitted initiation of criminal defamation and not go into the merit of the case.
On Swamy’s plea, the apex court is examining whether sections 499 and 500 of the India Penal Code relating to defamation and punishment for defamation respectively travelled beyond the constitution’s article 19(2) that imposes reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression.