New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi has, in a way, apologised for misinterpreting the decision of the Supreme Court in the Rafale case as “chowkidar (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) chor hai“. In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, Gandhi said that he had said this in election zeal.
Gandhi submitted further, in response to the Supreme Court’s notice following the contempt-of-court case filed by lawyer and BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, that in the future, he would not misinterpret any court decision, observation or verdict in his interactions with the media unless such a thing is found in court records.
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When Gandhi said ‘chowkidar chor hai’
The Supreme Court had earlier accepted a plea by a group of petitioners to take as permissible evidence a controversial report in The Hindu by N Ram. Following this, Gandhi said that now the Supreme Court too had said that the “chowkidar” (Prime Minister Modi) was corrupt.
Reacting to this, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi filed a contempt petition against this misinterpretation of the court decision by Gandhi.
While hearing Lekhi’s petition, a bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that the court had not made any such comment against Prime Minister Modi. The court said that Gandhi had misrepresented the decision of the Supreme Court. The court issued the notice to the Congress president and asked to him respond by 22 April.
Mukul Rohatgi appeared in the court on behalf of Lekhi.
During the hearing of this case, the court said it had made it clear that Rahul Gandhi took the name of this court and presented its decision in a wrong way before the media and the people about the Rafale deal. The apex court made it clear that, in the Rafale case, there was never a chance to make such comments while hearing the case of validity of the documents that were sought to be submitted as evidence against the government.
The decision of the court was limited to deciding whether the government’s plea that leaked or stolen documents could not be admitted as permissible evidence was valid.
On 10 April, a three-member Supreme Court bench chaired by CJI Ranjan Gogoi had decided, bypassing government objections, that the review petition would be heard in the light of the new piece of evidence, which was the N Ram report. After this, Rahul said to media persons that now the Supreme Court too had indicted the prime minister.
It may be recalled here that Ram had cropped out a part of the government document in his report showing that an officer had objected to the monitoring of the Rafale deal by the PMO. The part cropped out contained a note scribbled by the then Defence Minister (the late) Manohar Parrikar that clarified that the French president was monitoring the case too because this was a government-to-government contract and that such monitoring was perfectly all right.
Lekhi said in her petition that Gandhi had attributed his personal view to the Supreme Court and tried to create a wrong impression in the minds of the people.
The Congress had been countering Prime Minister Modi’s #MainBhiChowkidar Twitter campaign, which turned into a massive social media success, with #ChowkidarChorHai. It is to be seen whether the party stops this counter-campaign forthwith following Gandhi’s virtual admission that he had lied. Maybe not! Gandhi, after emerging from the court, repeated the jibe while talking to journalists.
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