A Pune court on Thursday directed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to appear before it on August 19 in connection with a complaint against him for his remarks about Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in a 2023 speech made in London, PTI reported.

In April last year, Satyaki Savarkar, the Hindutva ideologue’s grand-nephew, filed a defamation complaint against Gandhi, accusing him of making fictitious, false and malicious remarks about the Hindutva ideologue.

According to the complaint, Gandhi claimed in a speech that Vinayak Savarkar had written in a book that he and five to six of his friends once beat up a Muslim man and felt happy about it.

Rahul Gandhi then went on to ask whether this was not a cowardly act,” Satyaki Savarkar said. “But Savarkar has not written any such book as claimed by Rahul Gandhi, nor has such an incident ever happened. Hence I filed a defamation case against Rahul Gandhi in a Pune court.”

In January, the court asked the city police to investigate the allegations and submit their findings by February 23. The police, in April, said it had been unable to access the video of Gandhi’s speech. The court then extended the deadline to submit the report to May 27.

The Pune Police on Monday submitted the enquiry report before the court claiming that Gandhi defamed Vinayak Savarkar in the 2023 speech.

On Thursday, Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Akshi Jain listed the case for hearing on August 19.

Advocate Sangram Kolhatkar, representing Satyaki Savarkar, said that the judge had asked Gandhi to appear before the court on that date.

Satyaki Savarkar has sought stringent punishment for Gandhi under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code, which prescribes a maximum two year jail term for the criminal offence of defamation, or a fine, or both. He has also sought compensation from the Wayanad MP.

In March 2023, Gandhi was convicted by a Surat court for defamatory remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The court had given Gandhi the maximum punishment of two years in the case, which led to his immediate disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP.

The Supreme Court, however, stayed the conviction in April, thereby restoring Gandhi’s Lok Sabha membership.