Ahmedabad: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was Friday granted bail by a court here after he pleaded not guilty in a criminal defamation suit filed by Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, in which Union Home Minister Amit Shah is one of the directors, and its chairman Ajay Patel.
The defamation suit was filed by the bank against Gandhi after he alleged that it had swapped Rs 750 crore in scrapped currency with valid notes within five days of announcement of demonetisation on November 8, 2016.
Gandhi Friday appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate N B Munshi and he pleaded not guilty for the charges levelled against him.
The court granted him bail on a personal bond and surety of Rs 15,000 each. It will next hear the case on September 7.
The defamation suit was filed last year following a tweet by the Congress leader.
ADC Bank and Patel dragged Gandhi to court saying he had levelled "false and defamatory allegations".
The court Friday granted bail to the Congress leader under section 436 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, though his lawyer B M Mangukiya argued that Gandhi did not need to file a bail application as it is not required when a summons is issued.
S V Raju, the complainants' lawyer, argued that he needed to file a bail application.
Several Gujarat Congress leaders accompanied Gandhi to the court where a large number of supporters had gathered.
Gandhi is facing multiple defamation cases across the country.
Talking to reporters later, he said, "There is an attempt to suppress, threaten, but this does not affect me. I do not get scared. I will stand and continue to fight.
"This is a fight for the Constitution, the country's future, against corruption, against atrocity. This will continue."
Before appearing in the court, Gandhi tweeted, "I'm in Ahmedabad today, to appear in another case filed against me by my political opponents in the RSS/ BJP.
"I thank them for providing me these platforms & opportunities to take my ideological battle against them to the public. Satyameva Jayate."
Gandhi levelled his allegations against the ADC Bank a few days after the NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) replied to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by a Mumbai-based activist.
After the criminal defamation suit was filed, the court conducted an inquiry under section 202 of the CrPC to decide whether there were sufficient grounds to proceed against him.
ADC Bank and Patel have denied that the bank exchanged a huge amount of scrapped currency as alleged.
The bank has also filed a separate criminal defamation suit against Randeep Surjewala, the Congress' communication in-charge, for making the same allegation at a press conference.
Courts in Ahmedabad and Surat recently issued summons to Gandhi in criminal defamations filed against him over his statements made during the Lok Sabha campaign.
One of the cases is about his statement calling Amit Shah a "murder accused", while the other is about his jibe that all "thieves" seemed to go by surname Modi.