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Rahul says sorry to Supreme Court for attributing chowkidar chor remark to court

Congress chief expresses regret for juxtaposing, in heat of campaigning, the slogan while citing SC verdict on the review pleas

By Our Legal Correspondent in New Delhi
  • Published 9.05.19, 7:02 AM
  • Updated 9.05.19, 7:02 AM
  • 2 mins read
Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses an election rally for Lok Sabha polls, in Gwalior, Wednesday, May 8, 2019. (PTI)

Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday “unconditionally” apologised to the Supreme Court for attributing his “chowkidar chor hai” slogan against Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the top court, and requested that it drop the contempt proceedings initiated against him.

In an additional affidavit filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, the Congress chief said his remark was “entirely unintentional, non-wilful and inadvertent”.

“The Deponent (Rahul) unconditionally apologises for the wrongful attributions to this Hon’ble Court,” it said.

The affidavit came two days before a bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, is scheduled to hear BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi’s contempt plea against Rahul along with review petitions on the Rafale deal.

The wrongful attribution had come on April 10 — the day the court had rejected the government’s plea to junk a batch of petitions seeking a review of the court’s December 14 Rafale judgment.

The court had on December 14 dismissed petitions by several individuals who had demanded a court-monitored probe into the controversial combat jet deal.

On April 10, however, the court agreed to review its own order in the wake of fresh media disclosures about objections raised in the defence ministry’s internal file notings to “parallel negotiations” by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Rahul had then said the court had made clear that “chowkidarji” had committed theft, prompting Lekhi to move a contempt plea accusing the Congress president of deliberately misrepresenting the ruling to claim that the court had held Modi a “chor” (thief) in the aircraft deal.

Rahul expressed regret for juxtaposing, in the heat of the election campaign, the slogan while citing the court’s ruling on the review pleas.

On April 23, the court issued a formal notice of contempt after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Lekhi, complained that Rahul’s affidavit did not reflect any “apology or contrition”.

On April 30, a bench of Chief Justice Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph expressed displeasure at Rahul’s earlier affidavit.

“We have heard (the) learned counsel for the parties. After an extensive hearing, Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, learned senior counsel for the respondent (Rahul), seeks liberty to file an additional affidavit,” the bench said in an order.

“While we observe that it will be open for the respondent to file the additional affidavit if he so desires, we make it clear that the admissibility and acceptance of any affidavit, if filed, will be considered on the next date fixed i.e. 10.05.2019.”

Wednesday’s affidavit was filed in accordance with this order.

“At the outset, the Deponent herein most respectfully submits that he holds this Hon’ble Court in the highest esteem and respect. The Deponent has never sought or intended to, directly or indirectly, commit any act that interferes with the process of administration of justice.

“The Deponent unconditionally apologises for the wrongful attributions to this Hon’ble Court. The Deponent further states that any such attributions were entirely unintentional, non-wilful and inadvertent,” the brief three-page additional affidavit said.

It requested the court to “graciously… accept the instant affidavit and close the present contempt proceedings”.

Rahul also said the affidavit was “bona fide and in the interest of justice, and nothing material has been concealed therefrom”.

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