Republic TV has accessed the third affidavit filed by Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the Supreme Court over the contempt of court petition moved against him by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi for misattributing his 'Chowkidar Chor Hai' attack to its order in the Rafale review petitions.
The affidavit contains his 'unconditional apology' after the Supreme Court bench had been unsatisfied with the 'expression of regret' that he had made earlier citing that the remarks in question had been made 'in the heat of political campaigning'. The case will next be taken up on Friday.
I, Rahul Gandhi, S/o Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi, aged 48 years, R/o 12 Tughlak Lane, New Delhi 110011, do hereby solemnly affirm and declare as under: Vide order dated 30.04.2019, this Hon'ble Court was pleased to pass the following order:-
“We have heard learned counsel for the parties. After an extensive hearing Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, learned senior counsel for the respondent, seeks liberty to file an additional affidavit. While we observe that it will be open for the respondent to file the additional affidavit if he so desires, we make it clear that the admissibility and acceptance of any affidavit, if filed, will be considered on the next date fixed i.e. 10.05.2019.”
The instant affidavit is being filed pursuant to the gracious liberty granted by this Hon'ble Court vide order the aforementioned order dated 30.04.2019.
3. At the outset, the Deponent herein most respectfully submits that he holds this Hon'ble Court in the highest esteem and respect. The Deponent has never sought or intended to, directly or indirectly, commit any act that interferes with the process of administration of justice.
4. 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.
5. The Deponent most respectfully prays that this Hon'ble Court may be graciously pleased to accept the instant affidavit and close the present contempt proceedings.
6. That the present affidavit is made bona fide and in the interest of justice and nothing material has been concealed therefrom.
7. That the contents of the above affidavit are true and correct to my knowledge and belief and nothing material is concealed therefrom.
The Supreme Court had earlier voiced its dissatisfaction with Rahul Gandhi's earlier 'expression of regret', with the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asking if 'expression of regret' quantifies as an apology.
Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul had then warned Rahul Gandhi's counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi saying, "when you make a mistake, you should accept that you’ve made a mistake." This led to Singhvi saying for the first time that Rahul Gandhi apologizes for that statement.
The apology is important as a contempt plea and a contempt affidavit usually have an unconditional apology in the first paragraph.
Addressing a news briefing on Saturday, the Congress president had explained his 'regret':
"In the Rafale deal, Chowkidar has stolen Rs 30,000 crore. Now you ask about my apology to the Supreme Court. Absolutely I have apologised to the Supreme Court. I will tell you why. Because a process was ongoing in the Supreme Court and I commented on the process and that isn't my place. So I apologised."
He added, "But 'Chowkidar chor hai' is a slogan, it's the truth, it's a reality. And I am not apologising to Narendra Modi, the BJP or anyone else. I apologised because mid-process I gave an opinion about the Supreme Court and that was a mistake, hence I apologised."
The specific remarks over which the controversy broke out was made after Rahul Gandhi had filed his Amethi nomination papers and in the ensuing media interaction, had said:
"Supreme Court ne nyay ke bare mai baat ke hai. Supreme Court said Chowkidar ne chori ke hai (Supreme Court will do justice. Supreme Court said that Chowkidar is involved in a theft)."
It was after this that Meenakshi Lekhi had filed her contempt plea.