A court in Delhi asked the police on Monday to file a case against Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh for making allegedly vulgar comments about Mahatma Gandhi and former prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Jawaharlal Nehru in 2016, PTI reported.

Ashutosh had made the statements in an online post defending MLA Sandeep Kumar who was at the centre of a sex scandal. The party had suspended Kumar, and later expelled him.

In the post, Ashutosh claimed that while Nehru and Gandhi had relationships outside marriage, Vajpayee had said that though he was a bachelor, he was not celibate. Ashutosh added that Kumar’s actions in a leaked video – he was seen in compromising positions with two women, one of whom accused him of rape – were simply a “private act” and that the sex was consensual.

In the wake of Ashutosh’s online post, a police complaint was lodged seeking an FIR against the AAP leader under Sections 292 and 293 (related to obscene writings) of the Indian Penal Code.

“It is easy for an attention seeker to stand and point fingers at the Mahatma, difficult even for a patriotic preacher to rise and achieve greatness like Mahatma,” Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ekta Gauba observed. She said Ashutosh was trying to gain public attention and corrupt the minds of youngsters.

“Ashutosh Kumar has tried to gain public attention by tarnishing the revered image of Mahatma Gandhi, thereby demeaning his respect in the minds of the people, to settle political scores and made allegations, which tend to corrupt the mind of the readers including the younger generation, which in my view are cognisable offences,” the magistrate said.

The AAP had distanced itself from Ashutosh’s comments in 2016.