Mumbai: A metropolitan magistrate’s court here has issued summons to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury after a defamation complaint was filed by an RSS worker for allegedly linking journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder with “BJP-RSS ideology”. RSS worker and lawyer Dhrutiman Joshi had filed a private complaint in the court in 2017 against Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the CPI (M) and its general secretary Yechury.
Magistrate P K Deshpande on February 18 ordered that “process be issued” against Rahul Gandhi and Yechury. He, however, dismissed the complaint against Sonia Gandhi and the CPI(M), saying a party cannot be held liable for comments made by individuals.
The matter was set for further hearing on March 25.
Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru in September 2017, allegedly by the members of a right-wing extremist group. Joshi alleged that within 24 hours of Lankesh’s death, Rahul Gandhi told mediapersons that “anybody who speaks against the ideology of the BJP, against the ideology of the RSS is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed”.
Yechury too stated that it was the RSS’ ideology and the RSS men who had killed the journalist known for her trenchant criticism of right-wing politics, he alleged.
Joshi claimed that these statements slandered the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and therefore a case of criminal defamation under IPC section 500 be registered against Rahul Gandhi, Yechury, CPI(M) and Sonia Gandhi. He named the CPI(M) because Yechury belongs to that party and Sonia Gandhi because she was then Congress chief. The Congress president is already facing another case for defamation, filed by a Bhiwandi-based RSS worker, for allegedly blaming the Sangh for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.