Mumbai: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will face trial in a defamation case filed against him by an RSS worker, with a court here in Maharashtra on Tuesday framing charges against him even as he pleaded not guilty.
The 47-year-old Congress leader appeared before civil judge AI Sheikh in Bhiwandi, who read out the charges levelled against him and also the statement of the complainant Rajesh Kunte.
Kunte had filed the case in 2014 after watching Gandhi’s speech at an election rally in which he had claimed that the RSS was behind the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.
After reading out the complaint against Gandhi, the judge asked him, “Do you accept the charges?”
To this, Gandhi replied, “I plead not guilty.” The court then proceeded to frame charges against the Congress leader under IPC sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation). Under section 500, a person found guilty of defamation faces simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
The court fixed August 10 as the next date of hearing, when the actual trial will begin. Emerging from the court, Gandhi said if need be, he would be present in the court again.
“Let them (the BJP and the RSS) slap as many cases as they want against me. Ours is a fight of ideology. We will fight them and win,” he told reporters outside the court. On May 2, the court had asked him to appear before it.
Gandhi, who arrived in Mumbai this morning, reached the magistrate’s court at 11.05 am amid heavy security cover and was greeted by supporters who raised slogans in his favour.