Mumbai, June 12: Congress president Rahul Gandhi will be tried for defamation as the Bhiwandi court hearing the plea against him has framed the charges under IPC Sections 499 and 500. The Gandhi scion has pleaded not guilty. The next date of hearing is August 10.
"I want to challenge the BJP on the issues of petrol, diesel, inflation, unemployment and their anti-farmer policies. They want to level such cases against me. But I will remain undeterred," Rahul Gandhi said, while speaking to reporters outside the court premises.
While Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code deals with imputations made in public with the intent to malign, Section 500 deals with punishment related to defamation. If prosecuted, the law mandates a fine along with jail term extending upto two years.
The case against Rahul Gandhi was filed by RSS activist Rajesh Kunte. In a rally in Mumbai region on March 16, 2014, the Congress chief had accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of plotting the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
"RSS people killed Gandhiji. They opposed Sardar Patel and Gandhiji," he had reportedly said at the rally. (Watch Congress' video on Twitter accusing RSS of prompting PM Modi to stall anti-cervical cancer vaccination)
Taking offence, Kunte, the Bhiwandi unit secretary of RSS, moved the court with a criminal defamation suit against Rahul Gandhi.
Commenting earlier on the defamation case against him, Rahul had said he would neither apologise nor retract his statements. Instead, he reiterated the charge against the RSS in a veiled manner, claiming "an ideology was responsible for the murder of Gandhiji."
Mahatma Gandhi, regarded as the 'father of the nation', was shot dead on January 31, 1948 after a prayer meeting in Delhi. The murderer, Nathuram Godse, belonged to the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha. The former, however, claims Godse had no links with the organisation at the time when he was involved in the assassination of Gandhi.