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Rahul's plea to quash defamation case rejected

Rahuls plea to quash defamation case rejected
Justice M L Tahaliyani rejected Rahul's petition seeking to quash the complaint filed by RSS activist Rajesh Kunte before a magistrate's court in Bhiwandi in Thane district claiming that the Congress leader had said at a rally during last year's Lok Sabha poll that a worker of the organisation had killed Mahatma Gandhi.

"The petitioner was addressing a public rally for campaigning in favour of Congress. If the statement made against RSS was made in the said public rally, particularly when RSS is not a political party and was not contesting any election from anywhere in India, the statement prima facie would indicate that it was intended to harm reputation of RSS or the petitioner at least knew or had reason to believe that he would be harming reputation of RSS," the judge said.

In his complaint, Kunte, secretary of the Bhiwandi unit of RSS, had alleged that Rahul told an election rally at Sonale on March 6 that "RSS people killed Gandhiji". He said the Congress vice president had sought to defame RSS and tarnish its reputation through his speech.

Rahul's senior counsels R S Cheema and Prasad Dhakepalkar argued that the complaint was motivated and malafide. They maintained there was no ulterior motive behind the Congress leader's statement and that it cannot be said he intended to harm the reputation of RSS.

The court, however, refused to accept their contention and said since the complainant had made out a prima facie case against him the high court would not interfere to quash the complaint.

The prosecution had opposed the petition and argued that Rahul can plead his case and lead evidence during trial before the magistrate.

The court while dismissing the petition also refused to stay its order to allow time to the Congress leader to move the Supreme Court in appeal.

After Kunte lodged the complaint in March last year, the magistrate's court had initiated proceedings and issued notice to Rahul directing him to appear before it. He had then approached the high court seeking exemption from appearance and quashing of the complaint.
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