Rahul Gandhi ‘unconditionally apologises’ to apex court

Rahul Gandhi ‘unconditionally apologises’ to apex court for wrongly attributing ‘chowkidar’ remark to it

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday unconditionally apologised to the Supreme Court for wrongfully attributing phrase ‘chowkidar chor hai’ to the court. “The Deponent (Gandhi) unconditionally apologises for the wrongful attributions to the Supreme Court. The Deponent further states that any such attributions were entirely unintentional, non-willful and inadvertent,” Mr. Gandhi submitted in a three-page additional affidavit.

The case is scheduled for hearing on May 10 along with the Rafale case review petitions before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. On April 10, Mr. Gandhi made the remark to media in reaction to a Supreme Court verdict allowing the maintainability of the Rafale review petitions.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

In his affidavit, Mr. Gandhi, through advocate Sunil Fernandes, urged that the court may “graciously be pleased to accept the instant affidavit and close the present contempt proceedings”.

On April 30, the court was categorical that Mr. Gandhi had to either offer a clear-cut apology or brave criminal contempt for attributing phrase “chowkidar chor hai”, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to the court. “Any person can make a mistake, but having made it, you should go ahead and admit it,” Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on the Bench had told senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented Mr. Gandhi.

“And what is this ‘regret’ written inside brackets?” Chief Justice Gogoi had asked Mr. Singhvi. The court had said it could make no sense of what Mr. Gandhi wanted to convey in his earlier 28-page affidavit, which expressed ‘regret’ without apologising.

BJP lawmaker’s petition

That affidavit, filed on April 29, was in response to a notice issued by the court on April 23 in a criminal contempt petition filed by BJP lawmaker Meenakshi Lekhi against Mr. Gandhi.

“We have great difficulty in understanding what you [Rahul Gandhi] are trying to say in this affidavit… What does it [affidavit] mean? We do not understand…” Chief Justice Gogoi had remarked after reading Mr. Gandhi’s affidavit.

Mr. Gandhi had reiterated that the comment was made with rhetorical flourish in the heat of political campaigning.

In the April 29 affidavit, Mr. Gandhi attempted to explain that he unfortunately juxtaposed political slogan ‘chowkidar chor hai’ with the Supreme Court proceedings in a moment of euphoria, immediately after the court allowed the review petitions. He had not intended to hurt the Supreme Court, he reiterated.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, for Ms. Lekhi, had declared Mr. Gandhi’s submissions as a “cock and bull story” and a “deliberate attempt to put words in the mouth of the Supreme Court”.

NEW DELHI, MAY 08, 2019