Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges framed against him in a magistrate court in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra, in a criminal defamation case, ANI reported. He was charged under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.
Rajesh Kunte, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker, had filed the case against Gandhi for accusing the Hindutva organisation of killing Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. The Congress leader made the statement during a rally in Maharashtra before the 2014 General Elections.
Kunte alleged that special treatment was given to Rahul Gandhi and those accompanying him in court. He claimed that he was frisked before being allowed inside the court, but Rahul Gandhi was not, despite being an accused. He claimed that the police was biased.
The court will hear the case next on August 10.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Gandhi dared the Bharatiya Janata Party and the RSS to slap “as many cases as they want” against him. “Ours is a fight of ideology,” he said. “We will fight them and win.”
He added: “Our fight is against the policies of the prime minister. Farmers are frustrated and the prime minister does not talk about employment for youth. This government is only for the rich.”
In 2015, Gandhi had turned down the Supreme Court’s offer to express regret in order to get the defamation suit quashed. He stood by his remarks when he appeared before the court in Bhiwandi in November 2016, but was granted bail.
The Supreme Court had earlier reproached Gandhi, saying: “You can’t make collective denunciations.”