‘Chowkidar’ remark: Supreme Court issues notice to Rahul Gandhi on contempt plea
‘I am expressing regret only for attributing the slogan to the Supreme Court,’ Rahul Gandhi’s counsel said.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi on a contempt petition filed against him for his remarks about the top court’s verdict in the Rafale deal case, reported Live Law. The bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, posted the matter for April 30 when the court will continue hearing a review petition filed against its December verdict.
The court exempted Gandhi from appearing personally in the matter, PTI reported. The court rejected Gandhi’s plea to dismiss the case against him.
In December, the Supreme Court had dismissed the need of an inquiry into the Rafale deal. On April 10, the court decided to hear review petitions against that verdict, dismissing the Centre’s objections to the files that formed the basis of the pleas. Bharatiya Janata Party MP Meenakshi Lekhi then filed a contempt petition, claiming that while welcoming the order, Gandhi had attributed his remarks “chowkidar chor hai” to the court. Gandhi and his party often use the slogan to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Lekhi, said that Gandhi had not offered any apology for his remark. “He has said that he did not read the order and that he said it in a euphoric manner,” Rohatgi told the court, according to Bar and Bench.
He claimed Gandhi’s apology was merely a “lip service” as it was mentioned in “brackets in one line”. “His statement from Amethi to Wayanad is ‘Supreme Court said chowkidar chor hai’ and Narendra Modi is the Chowkidar. Is this how a leader of national party treats the Supreme Court?” the advocate said.
Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Gandhi, told the court that the Congress president had expressed regret for wrongfully mixing up chowkidar remarks along with his comments on the Supreme Court verdict.
“I am expressing regret only for attributing the slogan to Supreme Court. I stand by my political slogan ‘Chowkidar chor hai’. I regret for attributing it to Supreme Court,” Singhvi submitted on behalf of Gandhi, according to Bar and Bench.
In his response to the Supreme Court on Monday, Gandhi had said that his political opponents misused his remark and deliberately distorted the meaning, interpretation and implication of his comments for political purposes. He said these leaders had often said that the Supreme Court had given a “clean chit” to the Rafale deal, which was not true.
Gandhi also said that he made his remark in that context, “purely politically, to counter the aforesaid misinformation campaign being led by senior functionaries of the BJP as well as the government” about the previous judgement.