Rahul Gandhi, the vice-president of Indian National Congress, told India's top court today that he was ready to face a trial for the alleged defamation of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), ideologically, the parent organisation of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Congress scion had blamed RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, revered in India as the 'father of the nation'. The Mahatma was the leader of Indian National Congress (often called Congress) during British rule of India and was a leading light of the country's struggle for independence.
"I stand by each and every word. I will never take my words back. I stood by it yesterday, I stand by it today and I will stand by it in future. I am ready to go to trial," senior Congress leader and advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for Rahul Gandhi, told a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and R F Nariman.
The Congress vice-president had made the remark about the 1948 assassination of the Mahatma at an election rally last year. "RSS ke logon ne Gandhi ji ko goli mari
(RSS men had shot Gandhi ji)," he had said. He would now face trial in a Bhiwandi court in the western state of Maharashtra where a defamation case has been filed.
I stand by each and every word. I will never take my words back. I stood by it yesterday, I stand by it today and I will stand by it in future. I am ready to go to trial." — Kapil Sibal, counsel for Rahul Gandhi, told India's Supreme Court
Gandhi withdrew a petition before the apex court that sought quashing of the defamation proceeding in a Maharashtra trial court. He moved the Indian apex court in May 2015 seeking a stay on the Bombay High Court order dismissing his plea for quashing the defamation case
Meanwhile, the top court refused to grant him the exemption from personal appearance before the lower court in the defamation case.
Earlier on August 24, Sibal told the Supreme Court that Rahul never accused the RSS as an institution for the crime.
"RSS ke logon ne hatya k?"
(RSS members perpetrated the murder) is entirely different from 'RSS had killed Mahatma Gandhi'," Sibal told the apex court.
On July 19, the apex court remarked against Gandhi for indulging in 'collective denunciation' against an organisation and said it's wrong. It said the Rahul Gandhi might have to face the trial to prove his defence that his statement was an assertion of a historical fact.
Gandhi's counsel told the court that he was within his right to free speech. They have maintained that the complaint is motivated and malafide and should be quashed.
(WION with inputs from agencies)