The Congress President Rahul Gandhi has once again expressed his regret for misquoting the Supreme Court and suggesting that it had endorsed his election war cry “Chowkidar Chor Hai” aimed at the prime minister Narendra Modi. He did this while filing his reply in the apex court on the contempt notice issued to him following a plea filed by BJP lawmaker Meenakshi Lekhi.
He had earlier expressed his regrets on the morning of the day the matter was due to be heard in court. Yet the SC had last week issued contempt notice during the hearing on the contempt petition. Then, a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta, Sanjeev Khanna said Rahul had “incorrectly attributed” the verdict to it. The contempt petition is to be heard tomorrow along with the review petition against the Rafale deal verdict of December 14 last year.
In his submission to a bench on Monday, Rahul adopted his earlier reply and said that the BJP was abusing the legal process to “gag” him from raising the Rafale issue. He has requested the Supreme Court to dismiss the contempt case with a fine. Though it had excused him from a personal appearance tomorrow, the apex court has however asked him to explain by tomorrow why he should not be held in contempt for claiming that court it had “accepted” his “chowkidar chor hai (the watchman is a thief)” slogan attacking PM Modi.
Last Monday, in his affidavit Rahul had said that he had falsely quoted the top court as “rhetorical flourish in the heat of political campaigning”, without having seen, read or analysed the order. A day later, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi who is Rahul’s lawyer requested that the case be closed. As former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, arguing on behalf of the BJP, objected, Singhvi pointed out that the court had “not issued notice” to his client but only asked for an explanation.
“You are pointing out we have forgotten to issue notice. We will cure it by issuing notice,” responded the bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. It was shortly after the SC decreed on April 10 that the classified documents leaked and printed by section of the press can be used as evidence that Rahul claimed that the SC had endorsed his “Chowkidar Chor Hai Slogan”.
—India Legal Bureau