New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi has apologised unconditionally to the Supreme Court and pleaded with it to end the contempt of court case against him. An affidavit has been filed in the court containing Gandhi’s apology. Gandhi, outside the court premises, had said that even the Supreme Court had accepted that ‘chowkidar chor hai’ (the watchman — an allusion to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — is dishonest) in connection with the Rafale case, which was a lie.

Now that the affidavit is in the possession of the court, the contempt case will be heard next on 10 May.

The fact is that the apex court had merely accepted a controversial media report as permissible evidence in the Rafale case. It is far away from reaching a conclusion whether all aspects of the Rafale deal are in place or there is something amiss.

Gandhi said in his apology that he had no intention of insulting the court. Nor did he intentionally do so. Nor did he want to interfere in the judicial process. This was a “mistake”, he admitted. So, he is apologising for that.

The Supreme Court had said on Monday that the petitions filed for reconsidering the decision of the apex court on the Rafale deal and the contempt of the court by the attribution of Gandhi’s ‘chowkidar chor hai’ jibe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the court would be heard simultaneously on 10 May.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph said that the petitions filed for reconsideration on 14 December 2018 would be listed for 10 May.

On 30 April, the court had given Gandhi the last chance to apologise for his remarks through a revised affidavit. The Congress president had acknowledged through his lawyer that he had wrongly attributed his opinion to the top court.

On this, the court had said that his apology was unacceptable because his affidavit at one place justifies his statement while, in another, he regrets his act.

On the review petition against the Rafale verdict in the brief hearing on Monday, advocate Prashant Bhushan told the bench that he would debate the application filed by the Union government. The government has contended that a small section of the Supreme Court verdict could have been a result of a misreading of its presentation, which was causing confusion about the bona fides of the deal.

On the other hand, Bhushan and former Union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha contend that the government employees concerned must be punished for misleading the court by misrepresenting and/or hiding some important information.

The Supreme Court had otherwise pronounced there was nothing wrong in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France. The apex court had said in its decision on 14 December that there is no reason to suspect anything wrong in the decision-making process for buying the aircraft. Along with this, the apex court had dismissed all petitions filed for investigation of irregularities in this deal.

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