‘Chowkidar chor hai’ jibe: Despite Rahul Gandhi’s apology, SC to not close contempt case – The Financial Express
The apex court sought to know from the Congress president why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him.
Despite Rahul Gandhi expressing regret, the Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to him, seeking his response in a week on a contempt petition for “incorrectly” attributing his ‘chowkidar chor hai’ remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi to it in the Rafale case.
Rejecting the Congress president’s plea to close the criminal contempt case filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, the apex court, however, exempted him from appearing in person as of now.
The apex court sought to know from the Congress president why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for suggesting that the Supreme Court had endorsed his sharpest political attack on Modi.
The apex court also posted the matter for further hearing along with the Rafale review on April 30.
On Monday, Gandhi had told the top court he had falsely quoted the top court as “rhetorical flourish in the heat of political campaigning”, without having seen, read or analysed the order.
On April 10, the SC had ruled that classified documents accessed by the media can be used as evidence to consider requests to review its clean chit to the Rafale deal. Hours later, Gandhi cheered the order with the “chowkidar” remark.
Lekhi had moved the apex court over his ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ rant and accused him of putting words in the mouth of the top court and sued him for contempt. Her counsel Mukul Rohtagi sought time to file response to Gandhi’s affidavit expressing regret over his remark against the PM. Terming Gandhi’s regret a mere ‘lip service, ‘Rohatgi said that the Congress President had exhibited a reckless attitude in making such statements. “According to me it is not an apology. Actually a least service of apology,” Rohatgi said.
Questioning the tone and tenor of the affidavit filed by Gandhi, Rohtagi asked how he could make a petty comment on the judgement when he has “so many lawyers at his command”.
“There has to be some limit to cavalier statements,” he said, pointing out that Gandhi’s “least service of apology” for claiming that the SC had said “chowkidar chor hai”, was expressed “in a bracket”.
To this, the court asked: “Who is the ‘chowkidar’? Is it your submission that Supreme Court did not use [the word] ‘Chowkidar’?”
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Gandhi, maintained that Gandhi’s statements accusing Modi of corruption in the Rafale deal were a political diatribe after the BJP claimed the court had cleared the government of any wrongdoing. He requested that the court to close the case after he had expressed regret.
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While Rohatgi objected to any closure, Singhvi pointed out that notice had not been issued to Gandhi so far and the court had only asked for an explanation. “You are pointing out we have forgotten to issue notice. We will cure it by issuing notice,” responded the bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
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