Congress President Rahul Gandhi will face trial in a defamation case filed against him by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker after a magistrate court in Thane framed charges against him.
Rahul pleaded not guilty in the case.
The 47-year-old Congress leader arrived at the magistrate's court in Bhiwandi at 11.05 am amid heavy security cover.
Rahul appeared before civil judge AI Sheikh, who read out the charges levelled against him and also the statement of the complainant Rajesh Kunte.
"As per the charge, you (Rahul Gandhi) on March 6, 2014 in a rally held for elections at Bhiwandi, Thane defamed the organisation to which the complainant belongs," the judge said while reading out the charge.
"Your speech, which was telecast on channels and also published in newspapers, damaged the reputation of the complainant and his organisation and you thereby committed an offence under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)," he said.
The judge then asked Rahul: "Do you accept the charges?"
To this, Rahul replied, "I plead not guilty".
The court then proceeded to frame charges against the Congress leader under IPC sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation).
Under section 500, a person if found guilty of defamation shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
The court then posted the case for next hearing on August 10.