Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the petitioner, had submitted that Mr Gandhi had deliberately put words in the mouth of the SC for political gains.
New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday tendered “unconditional apology” to the Supreme Court for attributing “chowkidar chor hai” remark to the court soon after the April 10 verdict in which the apex court had agreeing to hear Rafale review plea on merits.
On April 30, a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph had expressed displeasure and rejected the “regret” offered by Mr Gandhi. The court pointed out the inherent contradiction of both “regret” and “justification” in the affidavit for the comments attributed to the apex court and gave him the liberty to file a fresh affidavit. The matter will come up for further hearing on Friday.
In a fresh three-page affidavit filed on Wednesday, Mr Gandhi at the outset said that he held the Supreme Court in highest esteem and respect, and added that he had never sought or intended to, directly or indirectly, commit any act that interfered with the process of administration of justice.
He submitted, “The deponent unconditionally apologises for the wrongful attributions to this court. The deponent further states that any such attributions were entirely unintentional, non-wilful and inadvertent. The deponent most respectfully prays that this court may be graciously pleased to accept the instant affidavit and close the present contempt proceedings. That the present affidavit is made bona fide and in the interest of justice and nothing material has been concealed therefrom.”
On April 15, the apex court had sought Mr Gandhi’s explanation on a petition filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who has sought criminal contempt proceedings against him for wrongfully attributing statements to the apex court.
Mr Gandhi had, in his reply, said that the “chowkidar” remarks were made during political campaign in a “rhetorical fashion in the heat of the moment” and clarified that he did not have the slightest intention to drag Supreme Court into the political arena. He also said that the comments were twisted by his opponents and expressed “regret” for using “chowkidar” remarks in juxtaposition with the verdict.
He said it is unfortunate that this slogan got intermingled with his comments on and references to the apex court’s April 15 order. “My statement was made in the heat of 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’”, he submitted.
“Nothing could be farther from my mind. It is also clear that no court would ever do that and hence the unfortunate references (for which I express regret) to the court order and to the political slogan in juxtaposition the same breath in the heat of political campaigning ought not to be construed as suggesting that the court had given any finding or conclusion on that issue,” he had said.
In the last hearing the court told Mr Gandhi’s lawyer, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, that it was not able to understand the affidavit and asked why “regret” was stated in brackets. The court also asked if there was a statement of Mr Gandhi’s apology.
Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the petitioner, had submitted that Mr Gandhi had deliberately put words in the mouth of the Supreme Court for political gains.
“Two affidavits have been filed, and the second one is identical to the first. There is only one word – regret in both the affidavits. This is the grossest form of contempt. There should be an unconditional apology. It is as clear as daylight. This is contempt,” Mr Rohatgi had said. Thereafter Mr Singhvi orally apologised and said he would file a fresh affidavit, which was filed on Wednesday.