Both granted bail, exemption from further appearance.
Mumbai: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechuri on Thursday appeared before a magistrate court in Mumbai and pleaded not guilty in a criminal defamation case filed against them by a city based lawyer who is also an RSS worker. Since both the leaders leaders pleaded not guilty, they will face trial.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker Dhrutiman Joshi, a 29-year-old lawyer from Dadar, filed the private complaint in a local court alleging that both the political leaders linked journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh’s murder with “BJP-RSS ideology”.
Metropolitan Magistrate P.I. Mokashi granted bail to Mr Gandhi and Mr Yechuri on personal bond of `15,000 each and surety of same amount after they appeared before the court. Former Congress MP, Eknath Gaikwad, stood as a surety for Mr Gandhi.
“The court has posted the matter for further hearing on September 21,” said Mr Gandhi’s lawyer Kushal Mor.
On the next date of hearing, the court would record evidence of complainant and then the defence lawyers would cross-examine him.
On Mr Yechuri’s request the magistrate granted him permanent exemption from personal appearance before the court and his lawyers would represent him before the court.
While the court proceedings were going on, huge number of Congress supporters were present outside the court and were raising slogans demanding Mr Gandhi take back his resignation as Congress president.
Earlier, Mr Joshi, on whose complaint Mr Gandhi and Mr Yechuri attended the court, was not allowed inside the courtroom initially due to high security for Rahul Gandhi. “The police didn’t allow me to enter from the main gate from where Mr Gandhi entered. Later, when I tried to enter the courtroom I was denied entry saying I should come by 11 am,” said advocate Joshi. He further said, “The security personnel didn’t allow me to enter the courtroom even when I informed them that I am the complainant in the case and I need to prepare to present my side. I was granted entry only after the DCP present there intervened.”
Due to security the police didn’t allowed anybody to enter the court from the front gate and the lawyers were granted entry from the gate backside only after they showed their identity cards.