After the Supreme Court directed Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi this week to face trial before the Bhiwandi court in a defamation case, the Gandhi scion will now have to apply for bail before the local court. The next hearing on the matter will be held on 16 November.
Meanwhile, the man who has made Rahul Gandhi run to various courts to explain his stand on Gandhi’s assassination and RSS, has said he doesn’t want any such accusations levelled against the RSS anymore.
“My only intention behind filing this defamation case against Rahul Gandhi was to end, once and for all, the aspersion cast on RSS about Gandhi’s assassination. It isn’t true. The RSS members have heard this vitriolic statement for years now. Not anymore. There is tremendous anger within the swayamsevaks for years about this,” Rajesh Kunte told The Sunday Guardian from Bhiwandi.
The 45-year-old builder from Bhiwandi is a third generation member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He is the secretary of Bhiwandi RSS.
“My grandfather was a lawyer and the Sanghachaalak of Bhiwandi for 34-40 years. When the Sangh was banned in 1948 after Gandhi’s assassination, my grandfather and my elder uncle underwent imprisonment during the Satyagraha. In 1975, during Emergency, my father faced imprisonment for nearly a year and a half, under MISA,” he said.
Asked what made him file a defamation case against Rahul Gandhi, he said, “Since my childhood, I had been hearing that RSS was being accused of Gandhi’s assassination. It was said in 1948, in 1975, and many other times. So, in 2014, when I heard Rahul Gandhi utter it again, I said to myself, this has to be decided once and for all. I decided to do something about it. I was watching his public rally speech in Bhiwandi on TV. He was campaigning here during the 2014 parliamentary elections. I immediately called my Sanghachaalak. Then I took the opinion of a lawyer friend. He said I can do something about it. That is when I dragged him to court.”
“See, the RSS is not a political party. We aren’t in the public domain to seek votes. During elections, the political parties level accusations against each other for political benefit, and I understand that. But why drag RSS in it? We aren’t standing for elections. Stating such things about us is a serious offence,” he said.
When Kunte decided to drag Rahul Gandhi to court, he had two options: to file a defamation suit, which is a civil matter, or to file a criminal defamation case.
“In the civil suit, there is no imprisonment or action. You can file a suit for a few crores of rupees. The proceedings go on. But we were not interested in money. What do we seek the money for? We wanted everyone to learn a lesson from this. So we filed a criminal case. Under the criminal defamation case, there is provision of imprisonment for up to two years,” he said.
The criminal defamation case is filed under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 499 says, “Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter expected, to defame that person.”
Section 500 of the IPC deals with punishment for defamation. Rahul Gandhi had also filed a petition challenging Sections 499 and 500. He did not get any relief in it.
As per the provisions of the law, the onus lies on the complainant to prove that a person uttered defamatory statements.
“The onus is on me to prove. But that is not difficult. He has never denied that he made such a statement. Moreover, in my complaint, I have attached a CD of his speech, and newspaper reports. If wanted, the police authorities concerned or journalists can be called for deposition before the court. But all of it is not required as the statement is not denied,” Kunte said.
The next hearing of the matter will take place on 16 November. Since Rahul Gandhi did not get permission from the courts for exemption, he will have to remain present for all the dates and face trial.