The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi on a contempt petition filed against him by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Meenakshi Lekhi, ANI reported. Lekhi had said that Gandhi attributed his remarks on the Rafale jet deal verdict to the top court.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Lekhi, had told the bench on Friday that the Congress president made a remark that the “Supreme Court has said chowkidar chor hai” in the verdict.
The Supreme Court directed Gandhi to explain his statement attributed to the top court and submit a reply by next Monday. “This court had no occasion to make such observation, only decided on legal question of admissibility of documents,” a bench said, according to Bar and Bench. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on April 23, according to Live Law.
“He [Gandhi] is replacing his personal statement as Supreme Court’s order and trying to create prejudice,” Lekhi said.
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the party will provide an explanation to the top court for Gandhi’s remarks, PTI reported. “Remember [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi when he said the Supreme Court has given him a clean chit,” Sibal added.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi claimed the party chief had not intended to distort the Supreme Court order. Instead, he alleged, it was the BJP that was distorting it. “It is a notice and the BJP is bound to cite it as a final order of judgment and we all know that they are equally guilty of distorting if they allege distortion by us, if they call it a final order,” he said.
Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley claimed that Gandhi had “manufactured” the court order on the deal. “To manufacture a Court order for a political propaganda is a new low for Rahul Gandhi,” Jaitley tweeted. “The lower he sinks, the higher we rise.”
“Dynasts are also subject the Supreme Court,” the finance minister added. “Indian democracy does not permit them to rewrite court orders. In Rahul Gandhi’s politics, the right to free speech includes the right to falsehood. Truth holds together, falsehood falls apart. Rahul Gandhi needs to learn this preliminary lesson of public discourse.”
Last week, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had unanimously dismissed the Centre’s objections to the review petitions seeking an inquiry into the Rafale fighter jet deal. The judges said the pleas would be heard on the basis of their merit.
Welcoming the top court’s order, Rahul Gandhi had said, “The entire country is saying that chowkidar has committed theft. It is a day of celebration that the Supreme Court has talked about justice.” Soon after, Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused Gandhi of making comments that verge on contempt of court’s order.