A local court in Maharashtra on Saturday granted permanent exemption to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from appearing in a defamation case filed against him by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Rajesh Kunte for allegedly saying that RSS was responsible for Mahatma Gandhi’s death.
The order was passed by Judicial Magistrate of Bhiwandi, L.C. Wadikar, after hearing arguments from both sides. The recording of evidence in the case will commence from June 3.
Kunte had filed a complaint against Rahul Gandhi, after the Congress leader said in one of his speeches that RSS was responsible for Mahatma Gandhi’s death. On the basis of his complaint, criminal defamation proceedings were initiated against Gandhi in 2014.
In June 2018, the Congress leader had appeared before the Judicial Magistrate and pleaded not guilty, after which the trial commenced.
Gandhi had moved an application in 2022 before the court, seeking permanent exemption from appearing in court on the grounds that being a Member of Parliament, he had to visit his constituency and attend to the party work.
The Counsel appearing Kunte opposed the exemption. Representing the RSS leader, Advocate Prabhod Jaywant filed an application on April 1, mentioning the conviction of Gandhi by a Surat court in a defamation case, the sentence of imprisonment for two years handed to him and his consequent disqualification as MP.
Advocate N.V. Iyyer, appearing for Gandhi, contended that his client had challenged the order passed by the Surat court. He further argued that the new developments could not harm or disregard the exemption application already filed.