Rahul Gandhi. File
Resmi Sivaram / IANS
Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday tendered an “unconditional apology” to the Supreme Court of India for attributing to the court his remark that the prime minister is a thief.
In a fresh affidavit submitted to the court during the day, Rahul revised his earlier “regret” to an unconditional apology. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had rejected Rahul’s previous affidavit in which the Congress chief had expressed “regret.” Rahul, in the heat of the election campaign, had claimed that the court had commented that “chowkidar chor hai,” meaning that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a thief. The reference was to corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Rahul requested the top court to accept his apology and draw the curtains on the contempt proceedings, initiated by Meenakshi Lekhi, a Member of Parliament from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The court will hear the case on Friday. The judges had asked Rahul to not make contradictory statements.
Rahul said in his new three-page affidavit: “The Deponent unconditionally apologises for the wrongful attributions to this Hon’ble Court. The Deponent further states that any such attributions were entirely unintentional, non-willful and inadvertent.” Rahul also said in his affidavit that he holds the SC in the highest esteem and respect and that he has never sought or intended to, directly or indirectly, commit any act that interferes with the process of administration of justice.
Rahul’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi had told the court earlier that there were three errors in the first affidavit that was filed on the Congress chief’s behalf over the issue.
During the hearing in the case, Mukul Rohatgi who appeared on behalf of petitioner Lekhi said, “He (Rahul Gandhi) deliberately put words in the mouth of SC, he has only expressed regret. Law is clear in contempt cases the line starts with an unconditional apology.” The observations made by SC pertain to order passed by the top court on April 15 when the court had sought Rahul’s explanation on a petition filed by Lekhi, who has sought criminal contempt against Rahul. Lekhi had also claimed that the Congress chief made the remark wrongfully attributing it to the apex court.
In his second affidavit, the Congress chief had expressed regret for his remark against Modi but had not apologised for the same. Last week, when the bench, also including Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph, had taken up Rahul’s second affidavit, they discovered it was just a reiteration of his previous affidavit wherein he had also tried to justify his remarks. This affidavit also narrated Rahul’s political stand as he described Rafale as a tainted deal.
The bench told Singhvi: “Any person can make a mistake, but having made it, you should go ahead and admit it...and what is this regret written inside the brackets? You are also contradicting yourself in this affidavit...honestly, we don’t understand what your 28-page affidavit is trying to convey. Does it take 28 pages to apologise?” “The answering Respondent (Rahul) has not done nor remotely intended to do anything to lower the majesty of this Hon’ble Court in any manner whatsoever,” the new affidavit said. “The answering Respondent’s (Rahul Gandhi) brief statement to the mediawalas made in this context of and during hectic political campaigning without having seen, read or analysed the order at that stage.” Despite making the apology to the apex court, Rahul continues to allege corruption over Rafale and maintains it as a central theme in the campaign. A few days ago, Rahul addressed the media and said he had made a mistake and apologised to the Supreme Court, but not to Modi or BJP.
Separately, slamming the opposition for using abusing language for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP said this only shows their sheer desperation and hatred for a leader, before whom they stand no chance to win public confidence.
Talking to the media here on Wednesday, Union Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Prakash Javadekar said the desperate Congress is also hurling casteist abuses on the Prime Minister, and the more Congress hurls abuses, the more seats party will win.
Calling the Congress a party of lies, Javadekar said: “Besides abusing the Prime Minister, the Congress is also speaking lies and today (Wednesday) Congress President Rahul Gandhi had to apologise to the Supreme Court for speaking lies in the name of Supreme Court.” “We have leadership, country’s security and development as our plank and what they have is only abuses,” the BJP leader added.
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