The Supreme Court on Thursday gave relief to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi while simultaneously rebuking him strongly in the contempt case against him for attributing his 'Chowkidaar Chor Hai' political slogan to the apex court, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Shortly after the Supreme Court bench dismissed the Rafale review petitions, saying it felt it inappropriate to wade into a 'roving and fishing inquiry', Justice SC Kaul pronounced the judgment in the Supreme Court for the criminal contempt case against Rahul Gandhi filed by Meenakshi Lekhi. Justice Kaul said that it was unfortunate that the contemnor had made such remarks and that he - holding such an important position - should have been more careful. Justice Kaul observed that no court should be dragged into any political discourse.
Following this, citing the affidavit filed by Rahul Gandhi in which he had apologised, the 3-judge bench in a concurring judgment said that it would not like to continue with the contempt proceedings further.
Rahul Gandhi, while draging the Apex court into the political fight with the BJP, had in April said that despite PM Modi mentioning in an interview that he has been given a clean chit by the court, the Supreme Court had made it clear that the 'Chowkidar' is involved in the theft. He had further said that the Supreme Court had accepted that there is corruption involved in the entire Rafale issue. Following Gandhi's statement, BJP Member of Parliament Meenakshi Lekhi had accused him of misquoting an order of the top court. Rahul Gandhi had said that the apex court had accepted that ‘chowkidar’ is a ‘chor’.
In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ was often used by the Congress to imply that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had committed wrongdoing with reference to the Rafale deal, in response to which the BJP had begun the 'Main Bhi Chowkidaar' campaign. After the Supreme Court issued a contempt notice against Rahul Gandhi, the latter tendered an apology seeking closure of the proceedings, holding that the remarks were made in the heat of political campaigning. However, Lekhi urged for initiating action against the former Congress president as the apology was not ‘unconditional’.