oppn parties Why SC Rebuked Rahul in RSS Defamation Case

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Why SC Rebuked Rahul in RSS Defamation Case

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Supreme Court has rightly rebuked Rahul Gandhi for denigrating and blaming the RSS over Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. Rahul had said that the RSS was responsible for the Mahatma’s assassination in a speech in Maharashtra while campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Rajesh Kunte, an RSS activist, had filed a defamation case against the Gandhi scion. Gandhi had appealed to the SC to quash the case after the Bombay High Court had dismissed a similar petition.

The apex court was of the view that a prima facie case for collective denunciation could be made out against Gandhi. Hence, the court said that he had to either apologize for what he said or face trial and prove what he said was for public good.

The court reminded Gandhi that it had upheld criminal defamation law in a separate case recently. The court had then said that “it is always better to mind your language as right to free speech does not mean defaming another.” In the current instance, the court said that “the purpose of the law is to make people obey the law so that there is harmony rather than anarchy. The law is not against the right to freedom of speech.”

One hopes that this stricture on Rahul will discipline politicians and others. Public discourse in India is full of wild and uncorroborated charges, often bordering on vilification, being thrown by all and sundry at their respective known and even perceived opponents. If there were no law to prevent this, one shudders to think of the lows that will be reached. Already, celebrities, writers and people from the media are being trolled on social media in the most abusive language possible. Such personal attacks are a sign of a depraved society, especially as they come from behind a wall of relative anonymity.

The Supreme Court has done well to remind citizens that one person’s right to freedom of speech does not mean an unqualified license to defame another person or organization. A genuine difference of opinion is one thing and an unsubstantiated accusation quite another. In a civil society, there have to be some lines that should not be crossed. If politicians remember this and keep a lagaam on their jubaan, our already clogged judicial system will be less burdened with such cases.