Rahul Gandhi moves Bombay HC against defamation case over remarks linking RSS to Gauri Lankesh murder

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has moved the Bombay High Court seeking to quash a defamation complaint filed against him over his remarks allegedly linking the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with the 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

The case against him can not be clubbed with that filed against Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury as they made the statements in question on different occasions and belong to two different parties with distinct or even opposite ideologies, Gandhi’s petition said.

Justice S V Kotwal posted the plea for hearing on December 5.

Dhrutiman Joshi, a lawyer, filed a private complaint before a magistrate here in 2017 against Rahul Gandhi, his mother and fellow Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, and Yechury, seeking action against them for alleged defamation under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.

In 2019, the magistrate’s court dismissed the case against Sonia Gandhi but issued notice to Rahul Gandhi and Yechury.

Both of them filed an application seeking to dismiss the complaint on the ground that they should not be put on trial jointly.

The magistrate’s court, however, rejected the application, following which Rahul Gandhi moved the HC in August this year.

He and Yechury belong to different political parties, having very distinct and even opposite ideologies, and a joint trial will cause prejudice to Gandhi’s case, the Congress leader’s petition said.

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“The statements made by Accused No 1 (Gandhi) and 3 (Yechury) are independent statements made by different individuals at different points of time and there is no community of purpose, continuity of action by which it could be inferred that what they have spoken is in consequence of common design and their acts are connected with each other,” the plea said.

Rahul Gandhi is facing several defamation cases across the country. He was convicted by a Surat court earlier this year but the conviction was eventually stayed by the Supreme Court.

Gauri Lankesh, a Bengaluru-based journalist and activist, was murdered outside her home on September 5, 2017, allegedly by right-wing extremists.

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