The Bombay High Court on Monday extended till January 25, the stay on hearing of a defamation complaint filed by a BJP leader against former Congress President Rahul Gandhi in a Mumbai court.
The complaint, filed by one Mahesh Shrishrimal, who claimed to be a member of BJP Maharashtra Pradesh Committee, alleged that Gandhi called the Prime Minister ‘commander-in-thief,’ while addressing a public rally in Rajasthan in 2018.
The Congress leader had also tweeted the comment on September 24, 2018, while referring to the Rafale fighter jet deal. The 43-year-old resident of Girgaon had claimed in his petition that Gandhi’s remarks had hurt the sentiments of the Prime Minister’s supporters.
On December 16, 2021, Shrishrimal had apprised the High Court that a local court in Mumbai had summoned Gandhi after observing that the evidence prima facie pointed to an offence.
Gandhi was directed by the local court to appear before it on November 25. The Congress leader then approached the High Court against the summons.
The Single-Judge Bench of Justice S.K. Shinde had directed the local court in November, 2021 to defer hearing on the defamation complaint, exempting Gandhi from appearing before the Magistrate.
Shrishrimal then filed an affidavit in the High Court, challenging this order of the High Court. He contended that the Magistrate had issued summons and initiated criminal proceedings against Gandhi after scrutinising the evidence submitted by the BJP leader.
The complainant further said that through his comments, Gandhi had tried to insinuate and imply that BJP was a party of thieves and that the Prime Minister was its commander.
He alleged that due to such defamatory remarks, Prime Minister Modi was allegedly trolled on social media platforms.
In his petition filed through Advocate Kushal Mor, Rahul said that the complaint filed against him was a classic example of a frivolous and vexatious litigation motivated by the sole purpose of furthering the complainant’s latent political agenda.
Gandhi said the complainant had no locus standi to file the complaint, since a defamation plaint can be initiated only by the person who has been allegedly defamed. He sought quashing of the Magistrate’s order and a stay on the proceedings.