Rahul Gandhi, in reply to SC, 'regrets' Chowkidar remark again

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi filed a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court on Monday after it issued him a contempt notice for his remarks on the Rafale case verdict and expressed regret again for attributing the 'chowkidar chor hai' remarks to the apex court.

Gandhi also sought dismissal of the contempt petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Meenakshi Lekhi, saying it was an abuse of the process of the court.

In his counter affidavit, Gandhi expressed regret for the 'chowkidar chor hai' remark on Prime Minister Narendra Modi while referring to the Rafale judgment. 

'It is also clear that no court would ever do that and hence the unfortunate references (for which I express regret) to the court order and to the political slogan in juxtaposition the same breath in the heat of political campaigning was ought not to be construed as suggesting that the court had given any finding or conclusion on that issue,' he said in his affidavit.

The apex court had on April 23 issued notice to him on the criminal contempt petition.

In his affidavit, Gandhi said he did not have the slightest or remotest intention to bring the court into political arena, or bring it into disrepute by attributing something which the court had not said.

"At the outset, it is clarified that the answering respondent (Gandhi) did not have the slightest or remotest intention, desire or even thought process to bring the court into the political arena, or bring it into disrepute or attribute to it deliberately or wilfully that which the court has not said or meant," he said.

Gandhi said 'several limbs of the government and of the ruling party' have repeatedly stated that the December 14 last year's order of the apex court constitute a clean chit to the government.

He said: "The answering respondent (Gandhi) would also submit that his statement on April 10, 2019, had also been made in that context, purely politically, to counter the aforesaid misinformation campaign being led by senior functionaries of the BJP as well as the government that the judgment of this court dated December 14, 2018, was a clean chit to the government regarding all the aspect of the Rafale deal.

"It is also noteworthy that the Rafale issue which had been and continues to be one of the most prominent political and social issues in this country for many months and despite the matter being sub judice it has been the subject of incessant discussion in civil society and the media."

The counsel appearing for Gandhi mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and said they be allowed to file a reply on the contempt notice.

The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, allowed advocate Sunil Fernandes, who was appearing for Gandhi, to file the counter affidavit.

The apex court had earlier said it will hear the criminal contempt petition on April 30. The apex court on April 15 had given a categorical clarification that in its Rafale judgment there was no occasion for it to make a mention of the contemptuous observation that 'chowkidar Narendra Modi chor hain' as has been attributed to it by Gandhi.

In her plea, Lekhi, the Lok Sabha MP from New Delhi constituency, has alleged that Gandhi has attributed his personal remarks to the top court and tried to create prejudice.

Gandhi in his reply also said: "In view of the above, it is submitted the present petition be dismissed in limine at the very threshold with costs. It is further submitted that by this petition, it is the applicant petitioner (Lekhi) who is seeking to drag the court into a political controversy for personal gains and political mileage."

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