Mumbai: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi appeared before a local court in Mumbai's Mazgaon and pleaded not guilty in connection with the RSS defamation case.

News agency ANI reported that Rahul Gandhi has pleaded not guilty and has been released on Rs 15000 surety amount. Former MP Eknath Gaikwad has given surety for Rahul Gandhi.

A case was filed against Rahul Gandhi for his comments linking Gauri Lankesh’s murder with BJP-RSS ideology.
The Mazgaon metropolitan magistrate's court, in February had issued summons to Rahul Gandhi and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury in response to a private complaint filed by Dhrutiman Joshi, a lawyer and worker of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Joshi had filed the complaint in 2017 against Rahul Gandhi, the then Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

A private complaint is filed to seek directions from the court to the police to investigate a particular matter. 

Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bangalore in September 2017.

Joshi said that within 24 hours of her death, Rahul Gandhi had told reporters that "anybody who speaks against the ideology of the BJP, against the ideology of the RSS, is pressured, beaten, attacked, and even killed."

The complaint also said that Sitaram Yechury stated that it was the RSS' ideology and RSS people who killed the journalist.

The court issued summons against Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury but dismissed the complaint against Sonia Gandhi and the CPI(M), saying a party cannot be held liable for comments made by individuals.

Rahul Gandhi is facing another defamation case at Bhiwandi in neighbouring Thane district, filed by a local RSS worker, for allegedly blaming the Sangh for Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.