Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was issued new summons on Tuesday to appear in a court in Gujarat on August 9 in connection with a defamation case, PTI reported. The case has been filed by a Bharatiya Janata Party corporator, who has accused Gandhi of making derogatory statements about Union Home Minister Amit Shah at an election rally in April.
The former Congress president was scheduled to court during the day but his lawyers asked for an exemption, NDTV reported.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate DS Dabhi reissued the summons after the one issued on May 1 – which was to be served through the Lok Sabha speaker as Rahul Gandhi is a member of Parliament – was returned. The speaker returned the summons saying he had no locus standi in the case, said the complainant’s lawyer Prakash Patel. The latest summons will be served directly to the Congress leader at his residence in New Delhi.
The court had earlier held that prima facie there was a case of criminal defamation against Gandhi under Indian Penal Code Section 500. The complainant, Krishnavadan Brahmbhatt, alleged that in an election rally in Madhya Pradesh on April 23 Gandhi had called Shah a “murder-accused”.
“Murder accused BJP President Amit Shah....waah! kya shaan hai [how glorious],” Gandhi had reportedly said. “Have you heard Jay Shah’s name? He is a magician, he made Rs 50,000 into Rs 80 crore in three months.”
Brahmbhatt said Gandhi’s statements were defamatory as Shah was acquitted by a Central Bureau of Investigation court in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case in 2015. He also said the acquittal was known ”in all political circles including that of the Congress”. Neither the High Court nor the Supreme Court entertained the challenge to Shah’s acquittal, the BJP leader added.
Sheikh, a wanted criminal, was killed in an encounter in November 2005. His wife was allegedly raped and killed three days later, and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati was shot dead by the police in December 2006.
Gandhi is due to appear before another magistrate’s court in a defamation suit filed by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank chairman on July 12. The plaintiff have alleged that Gandhi and party’s national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala falsely claimed demonetised notes worth Rs 745 crore were exchanged at the bank within five days of the government’s announcement of the note ban in November 2016.
Last week, Gandhi was granted bail by a court in Patna in connection with a defamation case filed by Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi for an alleged derogatory remark Gandhi had made about those with the surname “Modi”.
On July 4, Gandhi had pleaded not guilty in a Mumbai court in a defamation case filed by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist for allegedly linking the organisation to the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2017. He was granted bail on surety of Rs 15,000. He is also facing a defamation case in the city of Bhiwandi in Maharashtra.