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Never blamed RSS as a body for Gandhi's killing: Rahul to SC

Source: PTI
Last updated on: August 24, 2016 18:24 IST
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Political slugfest between the Congress and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh seemed to be drawing to a conclusion with Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday choosing to set the records straight by telling Supreme Court that he had never blamed the RSS as an institution for killing Mahatama Gandhi but persons associated with it were behind the assassination.

He buttressed his stand by citing paragraphs from his affidavit filed in the Bombay high court, while challenging the summons issued to him as an accused for his alleged defamatory statement in a 2015 election rally in Maharashtra.

A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and R F Nariman said if the complainant agrees to the submission, it will take the statement on record and dispose of the petition.

"What we understand is that the accused never blamed the RSS as an institution that killed Mahatma Gandhi but the persons associated with it were responsible for the killing," the bench said.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Congress vice president, cited the affidavit filed before the high court saying he had only accused certain people of the RSS and not the organisation as the killer of Mahatma Gandhi.

"I never made the statement that the RSS killed Mahatma Gandhi but persons associated with the RSS killed him," said the senior advocate, who intervened midway when senior counsel U R Lalit, appearing for the complainant, was justifying intiation of criminal proceedings against Gandhi.

The bench indicated it would pass an order on September 1 that Gandhi has "unequivocally" stated that he had never blamed the RSS as an institution for the assassination but persons associated with it had killed Mahatma Gandhi.

It asked senior advocate Lalit appearing for Rajesh Mahadev Kunte, Secretary of Bhiwandi Unit of the RSS and the complainant, to take instructions on the option of disposing of the matter and posted it on September 1.

Lalit said he would take instruction as to whether the statement, given in the affidavit, is taken on record, then the petition can be disposed of or not.

At the outset, Sibal questioned Kunte's statement before the police and said the police had no role whatsoever in a private defamation case.

Senior counsel Lalit further said that Rahul Gandhi has not disputed making the speech or the relevant statement at an election rally, which was there in the affidavit. 

To this, the court asked Sibal whether the statements have been admitted and added that if the accused admits making the statement, the matter ends here. 

Sibal said at this juncture, the court cannot ask him to either to admit or deny the statements and what he had specifically said in the affidavit is that he has not blamed "RSS as institution of crime in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi".

"This is like jumping the gun. He has to tell on oath before the court how he understands the statement and how the offence is made out. It's not like someone drafts an affidavit and files it before the court and gets the process initiated," Sibal said.

Lalit started advancing arguments on the query, posed by the bench during last hearing, as to how the police came into the picture in a private complaint case and whether a magistrate was justified under CrPC in seeking a report from the police.

Sibal intervened by referring to the content the affidavit filed by Rahul Gandhi and said he never accused the organisation in question.

Kunte, secretary of Bhiwandi unit of RSS, had alleged in his complaint that Gandhi told in an election rally at Sonale on March 6, 2015 that the "RSS people killed Gandhiji". The case is pending before a magisterial court in Bhiwandi in Maharashtra's Thane district.

He had alleged that the Congress leader had sought to tarnish the reputation of RSS through his speech.

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