Rahul Gandhi may have to face trial in defamation case: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday indicated that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi will have to face trial in a defamation case filed by an RSS activist for allegedly accusing the organisation of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

“You can’t make collective denunciation of an organisation,” an apex court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said, adding that the case may be decided on merits whether Rahul Gandhi’s charge was for public good or not.

The Congress leader has so far maintained that his statement blaming the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was based on a high court judgment and certain documents.

The apex court said that the statement was arguably made on the basis of a high court judgment but the case must be decided on merits.

RSS activist Rajesh Kunte had filed the defamation suit in a Maharashtra court against Gandhi, who then moved the Supreme Court for quashing of the defamation proceedings.

Hearing Gandhi’s plea, the apex court told Kunte that the purpose of the defamation law was not to promote litigation.

On November 26, 2015, in response to a suggestion by the top court, Rahul Gandhi had refused to settle the defamation case with the RSS functionary and to give the whole controversy a “decent burial.

Justice Misra said on November 26 last: “I think this can be ended in a decent way and get the defamation case buried.”

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Rahul Gandhi, had said that the defamation complaint was motivated, mala fide and deserved to be dismissed.

Sibal told the apex court that besides the high court judgment, there was other material to support his case and that he will argue the matter.

Adjourning the matter on Tuesday till July 27, the Supreme Court asked the Congress Vice President to detail his arguments.