Attorney General KK Venugopal has declined to grant consent to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Bar and Bench reported on Tuesday.
“The question of my granting consent would not arise,” Venugopal said. “In any event, I am of the opinion that the statements in question are too vague to be said to have lowered the authority of the institution in the eyes of the public.”
The consent of the attorney general or the solicitor general is required before the Supreme Court can hear a criminal contempt petition filed by a private individual.
Advocate Vineet Jindal, who had written to Venugopal seeking to initiate the contempt proceedings against Rahul Gandhi, had accused the Congress leader of making comments against the judiciary and lowering its dignity.
“This country has a legal system where one had 100% independence in voicing his/her opinion,” Jindal quoted Gandhi as saying. “It is very clear that the Bharatiya Janata Party is inserting its people in all these institutions/systems. It is very obvious! They are taking away the institutional framework of this country.” It is, however, not clear which statements Jindal referred to.
Jindal claimed that Gandhi’s remark that “inserting its people in all these institutions” had scandalised the judicial system. “A democracy requires a judiciary, which is independent, a press that is independent, a legislature that is independent in its workings,” the letter said.
Jindal claimed that Gandhi had said that the Indian judicial system was working for the BJP and was not independent, reported ANI. “It is important to mention here that Gandhi in the past also had wrongly attributed to the apex court, in his ‘chowkidar chor hai’ remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the Rafale case wherein Supreme Court had initiated and then closed contempt proceedings asking him to be careful in future,” the letter said.
It said the Congress leader had shown that he had not taken care of the warning issued by the Supreme Court. “We all know about ongoing elections campaign in some states of India and Gandhi just to take advantage over the ruling party in the Centre, [is] voicing such disgraceful and scandalising comments against the Indian Judiciary, including Supreme Court,” Jindal wrote in his letter.
The attorney general, however, dismissed Jindal’s contentions, saying that the Congress leader only made a general reference to the judiciary and his statement did not directly refer to the Supreme Court or its judges.