In a massive embarrassment to the Congress party, its president Rahul Gandhi on Monday submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court admitting that he had wrongfully attributed his 'Chowkidar Chor Hai' remark in the Rafale case to the apex court. He said that his comment was 'in the heat of political campaigning' and added that he 'regrets it'.
Republic TV has accessed the affidavit filed by Rahul Gandhi in the Supreme Court in response to BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi's contempt petition.
The Supreme Court on April 15 had issued a notice to the Congress president asking him to respond to the criminal contempt petition filed by BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi, following his statement that 'Supreme Court said that Chowkidar is involved in a theft' ('Supreme Court ne keh diya ki Chowkidar ne chori ki hai') while addressing the media after filing his nomination papers in Amethi.
"The answering Respondent (Rahul Gandhi) came to know of the order dated 10.04.2019 passed by this Hon’ble Court in Review Petition (Crl.) No.46/2019 in W.P.(Crl.) No.298/2018 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Order’), without having seen or read the order, through electronic and social media reports on the late morning of 10.04.2019 while he was travelling in Amethi."
"It was during a political campaign without a readable copy of the Supreme Court order being available on its website and, therefore, without the answering Respondent having seen or read the order and relying upon electronic and social media reportage and the version of workers and activists surrounding the Respondent", declared the affidavit.
"My statement was made in the heat of political campaigning. It has been used (and misused) by my political opponents to project that I had deliberately and intentionally suggested that this Court had said Chowkidar Chor Hai! Nothing could be farther from my mind."
In paragraph 15, the affidavit declared: "The answering Respondent (Rahul Gandhi) would also submit that his statement on 10.04.2019 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 Hon’ble Court dated 14.12.2018 was a clean chit to the Government regarding all the aspects of the Rafale deal."
In paragraph 9, the affidavit declared: "The said statements were made by the answering Respondent in Hindi in a rhetorical flourish in the heat of the moment."
Paragraph 11 of the affidavit said: "On 10.04.2019, at the time of and in my statement, the issues relating to court proceedings unfortunately got juxtaposed and mingled with a political slogan being used extensively by answering Respondent’s party as well as answering Respondent for the last several months, which is a matter of intense and frenzied public debate during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. That slogan is 'Chowkidar Chor Hai'. It is unfortunate that this slogan got intermingled with my comments on and references to the Apex Court’s order dated 15.04.2019. My statement was made in the heat of political campaigning."
Paragraph 11 of the affidavit: "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 ought not to be construed as suggesting that the court had given any finding or conclusion on that issue," the affidavit decalred.
In paragraph 23, the affidavit declared: "The answering Respondent reaffirms the intention with which the said statements were made and undertakes that he will not attribute any views, observations or findings to the Court in political address to the media and in public speeches, unless such views, observations or findings are recorded by the Court."
"The answering Respondent is grateful for the clarification by this Hon’ble Court. The answering Respondent reaffirms the afore stated and elaborated intention with which the said statements were made and undertakes that he will not attribute any views, observations or findings to the Court in political addresses to the media and in public speeches, unless such views, observations or findings are recorded by the Court. It is respectfully prayed that the Petition may be dismissed with costs," declared the affidavit in paragraph 32.