A court in Maharashtra’s Thane district on Saturday heard the arguments over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s application for permanent exemption from appearance in a defamation case and adjourned the matter till April 15 when it is likely to pass orders.
Complainant and RSS activist Rajesh Kunte had in 2014 filed a private complaint before the Bhiwandi magistrate’s court after watching Gandhi’s speech where he allegedly accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.
Gandhi had appeared before the court in June 2018 and pleaded not guilty.
Last year, Gandhi had filed an application seeking permanent exemption from appearing in the court saying he was a member of Parliament who had to visit his constituency, attend party work and travel a lot.
Kunte has opposed Gandhi’s application saying the Congress leader has been disqualified as an MP after his conviction by a Surat court in a defamation case.
In the court of First Class Judicial Magistrate LC Wadikar on Saturday, Gandhi’s lawyer Narayan Iyer contested the Congress leader’s disqualification saying that only the President has the power to do so. Also, Gandhi is willing to challenge his conviction by the Surat court in the defamation case, he said.
The contentions raised by the complainant cannot “harm or disregard the accused seeking permanent exemption” in this case, he argued.
Advocate Prabhod Jaywant, who represented Kunte, urged the court to take note of their pursis (written note/information) and decide accordingly while passing the order.
The court in Surat had on March 23 sentenced Gandhi to two years in jail in the 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his “why all thieves have Modi surname” remarks. But the court also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court. The next day, he was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha.