Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today refused to accept Supreme Court’s suggestion to express regret over his statement allegedly blaming RSS for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination to close a defamation case against him, saying he will contest it.
A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant also decided to continue interim stay of criminal proceedings against Gandhi in the case, pending before a magisterial court in Bhiwandi in Thane district of Maharashtra.
“If you want to close this chapter, we think like this. I (just an offer) am formulating it like this. In the course of the hearing, certain suggestions were given…But the counsel for the respondent (RSS activist Rajesh Kunte) has said that the petitioner (Gandhi) should show an impression of regret, then only he would settle this.
“I think this can be ended in a decent way and get the defamation case buried,” the bench said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Gandhi, did not agree to the suggestion and said that he would rather prefer to argue the case.
He further alleged that the complaint was “motivated” and “malafide” and deserved to be dismissed.
The bench also asked respondent Kunte to file his response within four weeks and further said that Gandhi may file “rejoinder affidavit, if any, within four weeks therefrom.”
The bench has already reserved its verdict on 27 pleas filed by persons including BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging constitutional validity of the penal laws on criminal defamation.
Referring to them, the bench said that if it allows the pleas then no such defamation case will survive.
The court is to decide whether Section 499 and 500 of Indian Penal Code are to be removed from the rule book and if not then whether the penal provision should remain as it is.