The Supreme Court of India rapped the 46-year old vice-president of the Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, in connection with a defamation case filed against him by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Right wing Hindu nationalist organisation.
The apex body denounced Gandhi's remarks on RSS and said that the Congress politician must face trial. The Congress vice-president has maintained that his statement on RSS involvement in Mahatma Gandhi's killing was a historical fact and his counsel has asserted that his statement was within his right to free speech.
Gandhi had earlier urged the Supreme Court to quash the proceedings against him, but his request was denied by the court.
The Supreme Court remained firm on Gandhi facing trial and said that the case must be decided on merit.
"You can't make wholesale denunciation of an organisation. Purpose of law is not to turn citizens into litigants," the court observed.
The Supreme Court has given him time till next Wednesday to detail his arguments.
RSS worker Rajesh Kunte had filed the case against Gandhi in a court in India's western state, Maharashtra. The apex court had stayed the proceedings against the Congress vice-president last year, pending before a magisterial court in Bhiwandi of Maharashtra's Thane district.
Kunte had alleged that the Congress politician told an election rally at Sonale in Maharashtra on March 6 that "RSS people killed Gandhiji". He said the Congress politician had sought to tarnish the reputation of the RSS through his speech.
Following the complaint, the magistrate's court had initiated proceedings and issued notice to Gandhi directing him to appear before it.
The Congress leader took the matter to the High Court seeking exemption from appearance and quashing of the complaint.
Gandhi's lawyers maintained that Kunte's complaint was motivated and malafide and deserved to be quashed, but led to failed attempts.