New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Friday hear the contempt plea against Congress President Rahul Gandhi for wrongfully attributing ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ jibe to the court.
On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi tendered unconditional apology in the court for the remark in the Rafale verdict. He also sought closure of the criminal contempt proceedings against him on a petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Meenakshi Lekhi. In a fresh three-page affidavit, Gandhi said he holds the apex court in the “highest esteem and respect” and that he has never sought to do anything which interferes with the process of administration of justice.
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday had pulled up the Congress president’s counsel even after he verbally apologised for incorrectly attributing to the top court his “chowkidar chor hai” remark.
The counsel told the court that his client would apologise for attributing the remark to the top court. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that it was extending a third opportunity to Rahul Gandhi.
Gandhi’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi offered the apology on behalf of his client a day after the Congress president filed a reply to the apex court’s notice on the issue, in which he had only expressed regret for the remark. In his affidavit, Gandhi said he had made the remark in the “heat of campaigning” and that his comment was not meant to scandalise the court in any manner.
The CJI queried the Gandhi’s counsel, “What is the meaning of expressing regret within brackets…and you take 22-page affidavit to express regret…”
During the hearing, Gandhi’s counsel made several attempts to defend the affidavit and informed the court he would file a fresh affidavit. “Have you given up convincing us?” asked the court.
Advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who filed the contempt plea against Gandhi had said, “This is gross contempt…he (Gandhi) while campaigning made these derogatory remarks, and it was similar to putting words in SC”s mouth.” Rohtagi also said that Gandhi in the garb of apex court judgement sought to portray as if “Supreme Court has said that PM is a thief, and people should believe it, as the top court has said it.”
Gandhi made the remarks on April 10, the day the apex court had dismissed the Centre’s preliminary objections over the admissibility of certain documents for supporting the review petitions against the December 14 last year verdict in the Rafale case.
The apex court on April 15 had given a categorical clarification that in its Rafale verdict there was no occasion for it to make a mention of the contemptuous observation that “chowkidar Narendra Modi chor hain” as has been attributed to it by Gandhi.