NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s top court on Tuesday ordered a scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi family to express regret or face defamation charges for blaming the country’s top Hindu nationalist organization for the 1948 assassination of independence leader Mohandas Gandhi.
The Supreme Court did not accept Rahul Gandhi’s plea that what he said in 2014 was based on government records and a court ruling and that he didn’t directly refer to Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, or RSS.
Gandhi, vice president of the opposition Congress Party, was not present in court and was represented by his attorney Harin Raval. He had made the remarks while campaigning for the Congress Party before 2014 national elections.
The court scheduled the next hearing for July 27, rejecting Gandhi’s plea to dismiss the lawsuit against him, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
The court said that Gandhi would be charged and face trial if he does not express regret for his comments during the upcoming hearing.
The case stems from a defamation lawsuit filed against Gandhi by an activist of RSS, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideological mentor, for accusing the organization of assassinating Mohandas Gandhi.
The lawsuit was filed in western Maharashtra state. If charged and convicted, Gandhi, who has so far refused to apologize and settle the case, could face up to two years in prison.
The Supreme Court judges said Tuesday that the government and court records say that Mohandas Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, was an RSS worker.
But, it said, “Godse killed Gandhi and RSS killed Gandhi are two different things. You have gone way ahead and you can’t make a collective denunciation.”