In a major development, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been served a contempt notice by the Supreme Court on Tuesday over wrongly attributing his 'Chowkidar chor hai' remark to the apex court's order in the Rafale review petitions after filing his nomination papers in Amethi.
The Supreme Court took up the case on Tuesday a day after the Congress president admitted via an affidavit that he had made the remarks 'in the heat of political campaigning' and expressed regret for the same. The Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, questioned Rahul Gandhi's counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi asking "who is Chowkidar? Did we mention Chowkidar in the court order?"
Mukul Rohtagi, senior counsel and former Attorney General of India, was appearing for BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, the petitioner in this case, and said that the apology was a mere 'lip service of an apology by Rahul Gandhi' as he has being saying 'Chowkidar chor hai, all the way from Amethi to Wayanad.'
The Supreme Court issued a contempt notice to Rahul Gandhi and has a set a date for Tuesday, April 30, to hear the plea along with the Rafale deal review petitions.
On Monday, in an affidavit in response to a contempt of court plea filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, Rahul Gandhi had admitted that he had wrongly attributed his 'Supreme Court has said Chowkidar Chor Hai' remark made after filing his nomination in Amethi to the apex court 'in the heat of political campaigning' and was regretful for the same.
The affidavit, accessed by Republic TV, saidthat he (Gandhi) had used the statement without reading the Supreme Court's order on the Rafale deal.
"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.", read the affidavit filed by Gandhi.
Further, in paragraph 10, the affidavit declared that Rahul Gandhi's comment came in the 'heat of the political campaigning'
"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."
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.