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Posted at: Apr 22, 2019, 1:18 PM; last updated: Apr 22, 2019, 3:20 PM (IST)

Rahul Gandhi regrets remarks referring to SC Rafale order

Says 'Chowkidar chor hai' jibe misused
Rahul Gandhi regrets remarks referring to SC Rafale order
File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 22

A day before crucial hearing on contempt case against him, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday expressed regret over his controversial ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi attributed to a recent Supreme Court verdict on admissibility of certain documents in the Rafale case.

In his reply to top court’s notice on a contempt petition filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, Rahul Gandhi said his statement was misused by the political opponents.

“My statement was made in the heat of the political campaigning. It has been used (and misused) by my political opponents to project that I had deliberately and intentionally suggested that this court had said Chowkidar Chor Hai,” Gandhi said in his affidavit.

“I will not attribute any views, observations or findings to the court in political addresses to the media and in public speeches, unless such views, observations or findings are recorded by the court,” he said.

In an embarrassment to Rahul Gandhi, the Supreme Court on April 15 issued a notice to him on a criminal contempt petition by Lekhi accusing him of making wrong statements about a recent verdict on admissibility of certain documents in the Rafale case.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi—which had asked Rahul Gandhi to file his explanation on or before April 22—is scheduled to hear the case on Tuesday.

The Bench had given liberty to Lekhi to file additional affidavit.

“We make it clear that this court had no occasion to record any view or finding or make any observation as allegedly attributed to the court by the respondent inasmuch as what was decided by this court was a purely legal question of admissibility of certain documents to which objections were raised by the learned Attorney General,” the Bench had said.

The Bench—which also included Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna—had said, “…that no views, observations or findings should be attributed to the court in political address to the media and in public speeches, unless such views, observations or findings are recorded by the court.”

The notice was issued to Gandhi after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Lekhi, had submitted that Gandhi had commented that the “Supreme Court has said that Chowkidar chor hai” in its April 10 verdict on Rafale review petitions.

“You were right to the extent we never said what has been brought in the petition. We will seek clarification,” the Bench had noted.

BJP MP from New Delhi and advocate Meenakshi Lekhi had filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against the Congress president for allegedly attributing his remarks on the recent Rafale verdict to the top court.

The Congress president had on April 10 claimed that the apex court had made it “clear” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “committed a theft”. He had made the statement while interacting with journalists in Amethi after filing his nomination papers. He is contesting against BJP leader and Union Minister Smriti Irani.

Gandhi had also recalled a recent interview by the Prime Minister, in which Modi had said that the Supreme Court had given a clean chit to his government on the Rafale deal.

“Now the SC has made it clear that ‘chowkidarji; (watchman) has committed a theft”, Gandhi had told reporters after filing his nomination papers from the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency. He had claimed that the court had “accepted that there is some corruption in Rafale”.

The court, which had earlier cleared the Modi government of accusations of corruption over the Rafale fighter jet deal with France, had rejected government’s objections and said it would hear a review petition on the basis of the leaked documents, referred to by the petitioners.


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