The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to express regret for his comments holding the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) responsible for Mahatma Gandhi's assassination or be ready to face a defamation trial.
"You can't make wholesale denunciation of an organization."
"If you won't apologize, you will have to face trial," the court said pulling up the Congress leader for his remarks.
Mr. Gandhi is alleged to have said that "Gandhiji was shot dead by RSS people and their people talk of Gandhiji”.
Rahul Gandhi's counsel tried to justify his remarks saying these are historical facts and even part of the government records.
The apex court said that Rahul needed to prove what was the public good in his statement against the RSS and hence it was a matter of trial.
The SC said that if Rahul Gandhi wanted to defend himself and was not ready to express his regret, than it will be better that he faced trial.
Mr. Gandhi's comments are alleged to have been made in March 2014 during a parliamentary election rally at Bhiwandi in Thane district of Maharashtra. He was charged with criminal defamation for allegedly referring to the "assassin of Mahatma Gandhi and his RSS background in his election speech”.
The comment had led to a criminal complaint being filed by RSS activist Rajesh Kunte against Mr. Gandhi. Mr. Kunte termed the comment as "false, frivolous, baseless and wanton allegations, imputations against the RSS and its people with malafide motive to harm the reputation of RSS, its followers, people, swayamsevaks".
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R F Nariman refused Rahul's request for two-week adjournment and posted the matter for hearing on July 27.
Rahul wanted two-week's time saying his counsel Kapil Sibal is not free before that.