Ahmedabad, July 12 : A court in Ahmedabad on Friday granted bail to Congress President Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case filed by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank in which Union Home Minister Amit Shah is a director.
The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for September 7.
The defamation suit relates to Gandhi’s Twitter message last year which was then reposted several times during the April-May Lok Sabha election, alleging that the bank had swapped Rs 750 crore worth of old currency notes with valid tender within five days of demonetisation on November 8, 2016.
Gandhi appeared in the court of Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court Judge Nirali Munshi and pleaded not guilty on charges of defamation.
The counsel for the bank contended that Gandhi must seek bail, while the Congress leader’s advocate Pankaj Champaneri argued that no bail was required since he had appeared promptly on the court’s summons.
After the court rejected this plea, Gandhi moved the bail application, which was granted on a personal bond of Rs 15,000 with Gujarat Congress chief Amit Chavda standing as his guarantor.
Gandhi is facing a slew of defamation cases for his statements against the BJP and its leaders in several states, including Bihar, Maharashtra and three in Gujarat.
He told reporters outside the court premises, “I am thankful to my opponents in the RSS and the BJP for providing me with opportunities to take my ideological battle against them to the public.”
He added that the more severe the attacks against him, the more resolute would be his fight. “I am not going to be cowed down by such attacks that may make me run from pillar to post. I will fight it out,” he asserted.
After landing in Ahmedabad, Gandhi tweeted, “I’m in Ahmedabad today, to appear in another case filed against me by my political opponents in the RSS/BJP. I thank them for providing me these platforms & opportunities to take my ideological battle against them to the public. Satyameva Jayate.”
He was accompanied by veteran Congress leader Ahmed Patel, the Congress’ Gujarat affairs in-charge Rajiv Satav, former state president Arjun Modhvadia, and others.
The small courtroom with a capacity to accommodate just about 30 people was crammed with around 100 people standing on their toes to hear Gandhi.
When he landed, Gandhi was welcomed by scores of Congress workers at the Ahmedabad airport. Many others waited on the route and near the court premises.
Later, he had several meetings with Gujarat Congress leaders as well as an interaction with the party’s legislators. He is learnt to have told the leaders to try and check party MLAs from leaving to join the BJP.
In Gujarat, eight legislators have deserted the Congress since the December 2017 Assembly election.