The Supreme Court Tuesday issued a contempt notice to Congress president Rahul Gandhi for attributing a statement, ‘Chowkidar chor hai’, to the court when it delivered its judgment on the Rafale deal documents. The apex court, which was hearing a plea filed by BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi, will take up the case on April 30 along with a batch of petitions seeking a review of its April 10 order.
The Supreme Court, however, exempted Gandhi from personal appearance in the case. “Personal presence of the alleged contemnor is dispensed with, for the present,” the order said.
During the hearing Tuesday, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Gandhi, expressed regret for attributing the statement to the court. Lekhi’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi, on the other hand, said it was no apology in the eyes of the law, reported news agency PTI.
Supreme Court issues notice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi in contempt plea by BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi ” for allegedly stating that the Court had said that ‘Chowkidr chor hai’. Matter to be listed along with petitions seeking review of its Rafale judgment @IndianExpress
— Ananthakrishnan G (@axidentaljourno) April 23, 2019
In an affidavit filed in court, Gandhi Monday had expressed “regret”, and said his remark “got intermingled with my comments on and references” to the Supreme Court’s order. He said “my statement was made in the heat of political campaigning”, and “it is ex hypothesi clear and obvious that no court, much less the Apex Court, would adopt, endorse or uphold a political slogan like the above”.
In her plea, Lekhi had said Gandhi had attributed his own statements about “chowkidar chor hai” to the court ruling.
In its Rafale order, a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph unanimously agreed that the documents published by two media houses — The Hindu and ANI — could be admissible in court. The Centre had objected to this citing “national security”, and said their “unauthorised photocopying and leakage” constituted “penal offences under the Indian Penal Code including theft”.
After this order, Gandhi had said: “Supreme Court ne clear kar diya hai ki chowkidarji ne chori karwai (Supreme Court has made it clear that chowkidarji got the theft done)”.