New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi will not apologise for blaming the RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and will instead substantiate them with historical facts and evidence before the court to support his claim, his party said.
The Gandhi scion was rebuked by the Supreme Court today and was asked to apologise or face trial for his remarks blaming the Rashtriya Syawamsevak Sangh for the murder of father of the nation in 1948.
"On a suggestion of Shri Rahul Gandhi expressing regret or apology, the question does not arise. Such a suggestion has been made in the past and not accepted by Rahul Gandhi. Mr Gandhi is a mature politician with intimate knowledge of historical facts. Congress Party and Mr Gandhi will defend these remarks at appropriate forum," Congress' chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said.
He said since the matter is pending adjudication, "we will not like to comment further on the issue".
The Congress leader said that Rahul Gandhi had challenged constitutionality of defamation proceeding besides the order of Maharashtra High Court wherein summoning order was challenged.
He said while the bunch of petitions challenging defamation provisions have been rejected, challenge to Maharashtra High Court order is pending adjudication before Supreme Court in a Special leave petition.
"The matter was listed today. Supreme Court nearly adjourned the order to July 23 without passing any order. Any remark exchanged at the bar between counsel for the parties and court cannot be commented upon as the matter is subjudice," he said.
At the AICC briefing, party spokesman Gaurav Gogoi said that "Rahul Gandhi has said that he will not seek an apology over what he has said and will fight the case as he wants to present his facts along with historical proof and evidence to prove his point and help bring out the truth before everyone that we all know."
He added, "At this point, Congress party stands with Rahul Gandhi and we are confident that we will be able to present a strong case, present all the facts and historical evidence that we are supposed to make."
Asked about today's order of the Supreme Court, he said there is a case which is undergoing in the Supreme Court and the final judgement is yet to be heard and the case is also yet to be heard on its full merits, for which they are waiting.
"Today, the Supreme Court has made some observations. We would not like to comment on the observations. Nonetheless, we are confident that when the case would be heard on its merits, we will present historical evidence and documents that support Rahul Gandhi's claim. We respect the Supreme Court."
The Supreme Court today observed that Rahul Gandhi, who blamed RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, should not have resorted to "collective denunciation" of an organisation and will have to face trial in the defamation case against him if he does not express regret.
"Why did you make a sweeping statement against the RSS branding everyone associated with the organization in the same brush," the SC bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and R F Nariman asked him.
"We have held it may be historically correct but the fact or the statement has to meet the test of public good. You can't make collective denunciation," the court said.
The court has given Rahul time till July 27 to detail his arguments in the matter.
"We have upheld the defamation law. The purpose of the law is to obey law so that there is harmony rather than anarchy," the court said, responding to Rahul’s plea seeking cancellation of case filed against him.
Rahul had in March 2014 allegedly blamed the RSS for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
"RSS people killed Gandhiji and today their people (BJP) talk of him...They opposed Sardar Patel and Gandhiji," Rahul had said while addressing a public rally in Thane district in March 2014.
Soon after this, a defamation case was filed in Maharashtra and the proceedings of the same had been stayed in the SC.
After today's observation by the SC, RSS accused the Congress of "consistently trying to spread lies" about it and assailed its vice president Rahul Gandhi for "avoiding trial" in the defamation case.
The BJP's ideological mentor also said Congress stood "exposed" after the Supreme Court today said Rahul Gandhi should not have engaged in "collective denunciation" of the organisation.
"Congress had been consistently trying to spread lies and baseless allegations about RSS. Today's Supreme Court ruling has exposed the Congress," RSS' head of communications department Manmohan Vaidya said.
"They (Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders) are avoiding the trial and are repeating the same false allegations against RSS. It seems he does not have faith in India's legal system and respect for it," he told PTI.
(With PTI inputs)