New Delhi: Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday told the Supreme Court that he stood by his remarks blaming the RSS people for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and said he was ready to face trial for alleged criminal defamation of the outfit.
Gandhi’s lawyer Kapil Sibal told the Supreme Court that the Congress Vice-President stood by what he had said about the people associated with RSS.
While allowing Gandhi to withdraw his petition, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman declined his plea for exemption from appearing before the trial court in defamation case.
The Congress Vice-President had moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court order refusing to interfere with the criminal defamation case instituted by an RSS activist Rajesh Mahadev Kunte before a Bhiwandi court in Thane district of Maharashtra.
Kunte is the secretary of the Bhiwandi unit of RSS.
During the last hearing the apex court bench took note of Gandhi’s statement before the Bombay High Court that he had not blamed the RSS as an institution for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but the people associated with it.
It was noted in the last hearing that since Gandhi in his affidavit before the high court had blamed the people associated with RSS and not the RSS itself as an organisation for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the matter could rest in the criminal defamation case. The court had adjourned the matter as the petitioner Kuntes’ advocate Umesh R. Lalit wanted to take instructions.
However, on Thursday the matter took a different turn when senior counsel Lalit said that to prove his bonafides, Rahul Gandhi should say that he did not intend to involve RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
At this, senior counsel Sibal appearing for Gandhi told the bench that he (Rahul Gandhi) stands by every word he had said before the High Court. “RSS ke logon ne goli mari. (RSS people shot at Mahatma Gandhi) I stand by my every word. I will not add or subtract a word to what I have said. I am ready to go to trial,” he said.A
Sibal urged the court to record his statement in its order that Rahul Gandhi is ready to face trial. The bench refused to record it and said the trial court will decide the matter uninfluenced by the observation in the high court order.
The Congress Vice-President in his affidavit before the High court had said: “The assassination of Mahatma Gandhi was a result of the destructive philosophy of the persons associated with the RSS. It was also clearly suggested that the assassins were associated or affiliated with RSS. He never accused RSSA as an institution of the crime.”
The senior counsel said what Rahul Gandhi has said is the statement made by Gopal Godse — the younger brother of Nathu Ram Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi.
Lalit said that if “He (Rahul Gandhi) makes a statement that he did not intend to say that RSS as an organisation was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi then the matter could rest.”
At this Justice Nariman asked: “What is the problem if the page (of the Rahul Gandhi’s affidavit before the High Court) exists as it is?”
“It is a statement made for the convenience of litigation,” said Lalit.
Pointing to the sequence, Lalit said: “He (Rahul Gandhi) intended to involve RSS. Nobody is interested in Nathu Ram Godse. The target was RSS. You have done repeatedly (blamed the RSS) in Assam and even after the last hearing of the matter.”
Congress had in the last 60 years blamed RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, Lalit told the Supreme Court bench. In every election, in the areas where people from minority community are present, they have repeated their charge against the RSS, Lalit added.A
Sibal countered Lalit and said: “Don’t make a political statement.”
Kunte had initiated the criminal defamation case against the Congress Vice-President objecting to his election speech at Sonale where Rahul Gandhi had reportedly blamed RSS people for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.