Rahul Gandhi has informed the Supreme Court that he will face trial for allegedly saying that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh killed Mahatma Gandhi, but the Congress Party Vice President won't back down from his remarks which linked the Hindu nationalist group to the assassination on Jan 30, 1948.
"I stand by what I said and will repeat. I am ready to face trial," Gandhi told the Supreme Court on Thursday, speaking through his lawyer Kapil Sibal.
The Supreme Court has refused to exempt Gandhi from personally appearing before a magistrate, and his case will continue in a lower court. If he is found guilty of criminal defamation under the Indian Penal Code, the Congress Party leader faces a prison sentence which could extend up two years, or a fine, or both.
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."
In July, the Supreme Court told Gandhi that he would have to apologize for his remarks about the RSS, or prepare for a trial in which he would have to explain the public good of his statement. "Why did you make a sweeping statement against the RSS branding everyone associated with the organization in the same brush," the apex court said. "You can't make wholesale denunciation of an organization."
Last month, Gandhi told the Supreme Court that he never blamed RSS as an institution that killed Mahatma Gandhi, but rather that a person associated with it was responsible for his assassination.
When the RSS claimed that he was backtracking and called for a public apology, Gandhi tweeted, "I will never stop fighting hateful and the divisive agenda of RSS. I stand by every single word I said."
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