NEW DELHI -- Just a few days after Rahul Gandhi thanked the Supreme Court for teaching Prime Minister Narendra Modi a lesson in democracy, the apex court has landed quite a blow on the Congress Party Vice President by ruling that he would have to face trial for blaming the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.
The Supreme Court asked Gandhi to apologize for his remarks or prepare for a trial in which he would have to explain the public good of his statement or he could be found guilty of criminal defamation.
"Why did you make a sweeping statement against the RSS branding everyone associated with the organization in the same brush," the Supreme Court said.
"You can't make wholesale denunciation of an organization," the court said.
While addressing a public rally ahead of the national election in 2014, Gandhi allegedly said, "RSS people killed Gandhiji and their people talk of Gandhiji." Rajesh Kunte, Secretary of RSS unit at Bhiwandi, filed criminal complaint against Gandhi, alleging that the Congress Party leader had made this remark for electoral gains.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of criminal defamation laws in India.
The matter of criminal defamation brought together an unlikely cast of characters including BJP leader Subarmanian Swamy, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Gandhi, who argued that criminal defamation laws curtail free speech.
Responding to similar arguments from Gandhi's lawyers, the Supreme Court said, "The purpose of the law is to obey law so that there is harmony rather than anarchy."
"Freedom is not crippled or cut. Everyday a writer, politician will speak something. The purpose of the law is not to turn people into litigants," the court said.
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