A criminal defamation case has been registered against Congress president Rahul Gandhi and CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechuri on the charges of defaming the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) by allegedly linking it to journalist Gauri Lankesh's murder. A Mumbai court has listed the matter for further hearing on April 22. Though Gandhi was exempted from appearing before the court on Friday, his lawyer argued that they have not received any summons in this regard so far. Summons will be re-issued to Sitaram Yechury since the CPM general secretary has recently changed his address.
"A criminal defamation case has been registered against Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechuri by RSS activist Dhrutiman Joshi in Mumbai Court. Next date of hearing is 22 April," the news agency ANI reported.
"Rahul Gandhi was exempted from appearing today, though his lawyer argued that they haven't received summons. Sitaram Yechury's address has changed so summons will be re-issued to him," it added.
Rahul Gandhi was exempted from appearing today, though his lawyer argued that they haven't received summons. Sitaram Yechury's address has changed so summons will be re-issued to him. https://t.co/Hezh5cjO35— ANI (@ANI) April 5, 2019
In the criminal defamation case, complainant Dhrutiman Joshi, an RSS worker and lawyer, has cited some purported remarks made by Gandhi and Yechury against the RSS after the killing of Lankesh, a strong Hindutva critic.
"Statements made by the accused and their respective political parties are in utmost sense defamatory and belittle the RSS in the eyes of common public. There was a definite move by the accused to tarnish the image of the RSS without citing any proof," Joshi had said in his complaint.
Speaking to a journalist outside Parliament hours after Lankesh's death, Gandhi said, "Anybody who speaks against the ideology of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), against the ideology of RSS is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed". Yechury also made a similar statement, saying that it was the RSS ideology and RSS men who killed Lankesh.
Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru in September 2017, allegedly by the members of a right-wing extremist group.
The Congress chief is also facing another defamation case in a court at Bhiwandi in Thane district over his alleged comments against the RSS regarding Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.