Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi on appearing before a Mumbai court on Thursday pleaded not guilty in a defamation case for linking activist Gauri Lankesh murder with BJP- RSS ideology.
He has been released on ₹15,000 surety amount with ex-MP Eknath Gaikwad giving surety for the Gandhi scion, reported ANI.
Rahul and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury appeared before a Mumbai court in connection with a defamation case filed against them in 2017 for allegedly linking Gauri Lankesh’s murder with “BJP-RSS ideology”.
The Mazgaon metropolitan magistrate’s court, in February, issued summons to Gandhi and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury in response to a private complaint filed by Dhrutiman Joshi, a lawyer and worker of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
Joshi had filed the complaint in 2017 against Rahul Gandhi, the then Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its general secretary Yechury.
Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru in September 2017, allegedly by members of a right-wing extremist group.
Joshi alleged that within 24 hours of her death, Rahul Gandhi told reporters that “anybody who speaks against the ideology of the BJP, against the ideology of the RSS, is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed.”
The complaint also alleged that Yechury stated that it was the RSS’ ideology and RSS people who killed the journalist who was known for trenchant criticism of right-wing politics.
The court issued summons against Rahul Gandhi and Yechury but dismissed the complaint against Sonia Gandhi and the CPM, saying a party cannot be held liable for comments made by individuals.
There are five different cases for which Rahul will have to appear in courts across the country to defend statements he made against BJP and RSS while campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls.
Rahul will next appear before a Patna court on July 6 in connection with a defamation case filed against him by deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi for asking “why all thieves have Modi as their title (surnames)”.
Rahul will appear before an Ahmedabad court on July 9 for his “murder accused” reference to BJP chief Amit Shah, while on July 12, he will appear before another Gujarat court in criminal defamation suits filed by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and its chairman. On July 24, Rahul is scheduled to appear before a Surat court, for allegedly defaming the entire Modi community by saying all “Modis are thieves”.