Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury granted bail in RSS defamation case
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury will face trial after pleading not guilty in a defamation case filed by an RSS worker.
The court read out to Rahul and Yechury the complaint and asked if they were pleading guilty or not guilty to the charges levelled against them.
The two leaders, who pleaded not guilty, will now face trial during which the court would record their statements and that of the complainant and other witnesses.
The court granted the two leaders bail on a surety amount of Rs 15,000 each and also granted them permanent exemption from appearance before it during hearings in the case.
Former Congress MP Eknath Gaikwad stood as surety for Gandhi.
Rahul and Yechury then signed necessary documents and left the court premises.
Earlier in the day, the Congress leader reached the Mazgaon- Sewree metropolitan magistrate's court amid heavy security arrangements, following summons issued against him in February. Yechury reached the court a short while later.
Dhrutiman Joshi, an RSS activist and advocate, had filed the complaint against Rahul and Yechury, seeking defamation proceedings to be initiated against them for allegedly linking the Sangh to the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
'Gandhi honoured the summons issued against him by this court. He has pleaded not guilty which means he will face trial. The court has posted the matter for further hearing on September 22,' Gandhi's lawyer Kushal Mor said.
Joshi had filed a private complaint in 2017 against Rahul, then Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the CPM and Yechury. A private complaint is filed to seek directions from the court to police to investigate the matter.
Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru in September 2017, allegedly by the members of a right-wing group.
Joshi alleged that within 24 hours of her death, Rahul told reporters that 'anybody who speaks against the ideology of the BJP, against the ideology of the RSS, is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed'.
According to his complaint, Yechury too stated that it was RSS ideology and RSS people who killed the journalist known for trenchant criticism of right-wing politics.
The court issued summons against Rahul and Yechury but dismissed the complaint against Sonia and the CPM, saying a party cannot be held liable for comments made by individuals.
Rahul is already facing another defamation case at Bhiwandi in neighbouring Thane district, filed by a local RSS worker, for allegedly blaming the Sangh for Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.