Mumbai: A metropolitan magistrate's court in Mumbai had summoned AICC president Rahul Gandhi and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury after an RSS worker filed a defamation complaint against them. The duo had said that the murder belonged to a "BJP-RSS ideology".

RSS worker and lawyer Dhrutiman Joshi had filed a private complaint in the court in 2017 against Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury and the CPM.

Joshi alleged that within 24 hours of Lankesh's death, Rahul Gandhi told media persons that anyone who spoke against the ideology of the BJP or the RSS, "is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed".

Yechury too had stated that it was the RSS' ideology and the RSS men who had killed the journalist who was well known for her criticism of right-wing politics, Joshi alleged.

Dhrutiman Joshi claimed that these statements slandered the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and therefore a case of criminal defamation under IPC section 500 was registered against Rahul Gandhi, Yechury, CPM and Sonia Gandhi.

Magistrate PK Deshpande on February 18 ordered that "process be issued" against Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury.

However, Deshpande dismissed the complaint against Sonia Gandhi and the CPM, stating that an entire party cannot be held liable for comments made by individuals.

The matter was set for further hearing on March 25.

Joshi named the CPM because Mr Yechury belongs to that party and Sonia Gandhi because she was then Congress chief.

The Congress president is already facing another case for defamation, filed by a Bhiwandi-based RSS worker, for allegedly blaming the Sangh for Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.

Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru in September 2017, allegedly by the members of a right-wing extremist group.