Rohatgi argued that the apology expressed by the Congress president was belated and not sincere.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday reserved verdict on the contempt plea against Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his ‘chowkidar ki chor hai’ remarks attributing it to the apex court in the Rafale verdict.
A three judge Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gandhi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph reserved orders at the conclusion of arguments by senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi for the petitioner Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP Member of Parliament and senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi for Rahul Gandhi.
Mr Rohatgi argued that the apology expressed by the Congress president was belated and not sincere. He had led the public astray by saying that the SC had said “chowkidar hi chor hai” and made the people to believe that the highest court of this land had said this. He argued that Mr Gandhi had deliberately put words in the mouth of the SC for political gains. He said the court should ask Mr Gandhi to apologise to the public for his remarks.
In response, Mr Singhvi clarified that Mr Gandhi had acknowledged his mistake in attributing the remarks to the Supreme Court and had expressed regret in the very first affidavit filed even before the issuance of notice. He had expressed an “unconditional apology” and nothing survives in the petition and it should be closed, Mr Singhvi stated.
In a fresh three-page affidavit, Rahul Gandhi at the outset said that he held this Court in the highest esteem and respect. He had never sought or intended to, directly or indirectly, commit any act that interfered with the process of administration of justice.
He said, “the Deponent unconditionally apologises for the wrongful attributions to this Court. The Deponent further states that any such attributions were entirely unintentional, non-willful 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 Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, who has sought criminal contempt against him for wrongfully attributing statements to the apex court.
Mr. Gandhi in his reply affidavit said that ‘Chowkidar’ remarks were made during political campaign in a “rhetorical fashion at the heat of the moment” and clarified that he did not have the slightest intention to bring Supreme Court into the political arena or disrepute. He also said that the comments were twisted by his opponents and expressed ‘regret’ for using ‘chowkidar’ remarks in juxtaposition with the verdict.