NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi, in an “unconditional apology” to the Supreme Court, said today that he had “unintentionally and inadvertently” linked its Rafale case order to his “Chowkidar chor hai” phrase against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With a new affidavit, he requested the court to end the contempt case against him by BJP lawmaker Meenakshi Lekhi.
On April 30, the Congress chief had promised to apologise in a fresh affidavit, for wrongly attributing the “Chowkidar chor hai” remark to the Supreme Court. Rahul Gandhi’s original affidavit had expressed regret which, the BJP argued, was nowhere near an unqualified apology that was required for his comments.
“(Rahul Gandhi) 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,” the new affidavit said. Rahul Gandhi also said “he holds the court in the highest esteem and respect” and “never sought or intended to, directly or indirectly, commit any act that interferes with the process of administration of justice.”
Last week, he told NDTV in his first TV interview this election season that his offer to the court did not mean an apology to PM Modi. “There is absolutely no apology to PM Narendra Modi. I made a genuine mistake that I said the Supreme Court said it. I am not apologising to the least for saying Chowkidar chor hai,” he said.
Rahul Gandhi was sued by the BJP leader for his comments after the Supreme Court on April 10 ruled that classified documents accessed by the media can be used as evidence to consider a review of its earlier decision on the Rafale jet deal.
Welcoming that order, which opened up the possibility of the court reconsidering its clean chit to the government on the deal, Rahul Gandhi had said the “court agreed that Chowkidar Chor Hai”.
As the BJP took the Congress president to court, the judges demanded that Rahul Gandhi explain his position.
Responding to the Supreme Court notice to explain, the Congress president expressed regret and admitted that he had falsely quoted the top court as “rhetorical flourish in the heat of political campaigning” without having seen, read or analysed the order.
The BJP said regret was not enough. “Either justify or apologise. It is gross contempt. Affidavit has to be unconditional apology. If you made a mistake, come clean,” said Mukul Rohatgi, representing the petitioner, the BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi.