Congress president Rahul Gandhi has tendered an unconditional apology in the Supreme Court for incorrectly attributing his 'Chowkidar Chor Hai' attack to the apex court's order in the Rafale review petititions.
The apology has come in the form of a third affidavit filed by Rahul Gandhi in the matter of the contempt petition moved against him by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi. The affidavit is a far smaller one than the two that were filed earlier.
In the previous hearing, when Rahul Gandhi via his counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi had filed a second affidavit which was along the same lines of his first, in which he had said that he had made the statements in question 'in the heat of political campaigning' and expressed 'regret', the Supreme Court had been unsatisfied, with the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asking if 'expression of regret' quantifies as an apology.
Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul had then warned 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.