Indian Decade

Rahul Gandhi Off the Hook

Rahul Gandhi can breathe a sigh of relief after an apparently frivolous petition is dismissed by a high court.

Last week, I wrote that Congress Party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi was facing a serious criminal case in Allahabad High Court after being accused of assaulting 24-year-old Sukanya Singh. Singh had reportedly been missing since she’d gone to meet Gandhi in Amethi (in Uttar Pradesh, his parliamentary constituency) more than four years ago.

The petitioner in the case, Kishore Samrite is a former Samajwadi Party lawmaker from Madhya Pradesh. He alleged that Gandhi and his ‘five foreigner friends’ had gang-raped the girl, claiming he’d read the news on a website. He filed a habeas corpus petition seeking the girl as well as her father and mother. Accordingly, the court issued a notice to Rahul.

The Congress, particularly Gandhi, would clearly have been troubled by such moves. But neither the party nor the Gandhis need concern themselves over the matter any longer. On March 7, the girl and her parents were produced before a division bench of Allahabad High Court, where she told the court that neither she nor her parents were under illegal detention by any person. Singh also told the court that her actual name is Kirti Singh and that the officer in charge of the Amethi police station had properly identified her and her parents before having them appear in court.

A shell-shocked court immediately passed an order that should serve as a warning for all future frivolous petitioners. It ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into Samrite, to investigate his real motivation for attempting to malign the image of India’s crown prince. The court also imposed a hefty fine of over $100,000 on the former lawmaker for his frivolous petition. In addition, it ordered action against the website that reported the girl’s disappearance, where Samrite was allegedly first tipped off.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

The Allahabad High Court’s verdict in this case is laudable indeed. In a country like India, where the backlog of pending court cases has climbed to a staggering 30 million, frivolous cases need to be tackled with an iron hand. It’s a troubling fact in India that court cases are increasingly being used to settle political scores, and that the real people behind such politically motivated petitions hardly ever get revealed.