Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday got exemption from appearance before a court in Maharashtra’s Thane district which is hearing a defamation case filed against him by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker.
Gandhi’s lawyer advocate Narayan Iyer applied for exemption from appearance for him, stating that being an MP he had to be in Delhi to vote in the election for Vice President.
As both Gandhi and complainant Rajesh Kunte were not present before the court at Bhiwandi, it adjourned the hearing of the case, dating back to 2014, to October 1. Examination of witnesses is yet to start. The court is yet to record even Kunte’s own statement.
Kunte’s complaint alleged that Rahul Gandhi, at an election rally near Bhiwandi on March 6, 2014, said that ”the RSS people killed (Mahatma) Gandhi.” He thus slandered the Sangh, the complaint said.
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Advocate Iyer said Judicial Magistrate (First Class) L C Wadikar on Saturday granted Gandhi’s plea seeking exemption from appearance, and his application seeking permanent exemption would come up at the next hearing.
Kunte too was exempted from appearance on Saturday as he was not able to walk properly following an accident, as per his lawyers. The court of Magistrate Wadikar has been designated as a special court to try criminal cases pending against elected representatives.
Rahul Gandhi had earlier moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the case.
The apex court in July 2016 said he should not have resorted to ”collective denunciation” of an organisation, and would have to face trial if he did not express regret for his remark.
The Congress leader refused to accept the suggestion and expressed willingness to face a trial.