Criminal defamation plaint by RSS worker: Rahul moves Bombay HC against lower court order on fresh documents

 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has approached the Bombay High Court against a lower court order allowing an RSS worker to submit fresh and additional documents in a criminal defamation complaint.

In his plea, Gandhi claimed that another bench of the high court in 2021 disallowed the complainant, Rajesh Kunte, from submitting any fresh documents in the case.

However, a magistrate’s court in Bhiwandi in Thane district of Maharashtra allowed Kunte to submit fresh documents in June this year.

Gandhi’s petition claimed the magistrate’s order allowing Kunte to submit fresh documents at this stage was “completely illegal and prejudicial”.

Kunte in his defamation plaint claimed that Rahul Gandhi had made false and defamatory statements that the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi’s petition came up for hearing on Monday before a single bench of Justice S V Kotwal.

Justice Kotwal said that since in 2021, a coordinate bench of the high court heard the plea filed by Kunte seeking submission of additional documents in the plaint, it would be better if the same bench hears Gandhi’s plea too.

“If you (Gandhi’s advocate Kushal Mor) are saying this issue has already been covered by this High Court, it would be better if the same judge hears this petition. There are observations by the judge. Let that judge sit in review instead of me sitting in appeal,” Justice Kotwal said.

“Considering the submissions made by Mor, propriety dictates that matter be placed before the same learned judge who heard the matter,” the bench said.

The documents submitted by Kunte include parts of a petition filed by Gandhi in 2014 challenging the summons issued to him by the Bhiwandi court then.

It includes a copy of the transcript of the speech from the CD containing the purported live telecast of the speech made by Gandhi, which was annexed as an exhibit to the petition.

The high court had dismissed Gandhi’s petition in 2015.

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