What Rahul Gandhi really said in his affidavit to the Supreme Court [Read Affidavit]April 22 2019
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has filed his response in the contempt case initiated by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi objecting to his “Chowkidar Chor Hai” statement, in reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Lekhi had filed the plea objecting to this statement apparently made by Gandhi: “Sarvoch Nyayalay ne kaha hai, Chowkidar chor hai” (The Supreme Court has said that the ‘Chowkidar’ is a thief). The statement was allegedly made in response to the Supreme Court’s judgment concerning the maintainability of the Rafale review case.
After the matter came up before a Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna on April 15, the Court had asked Gandhi to explain his statement, while observing,
“The Court had no such occasion to make any such observation.”
In response, Gandhi has now filed an affidavit through advocate Sunil Fernandes submitting that his brief statement, made amidst hectic political campaigning, was not intended to insinuate anything that has not been said by the Court.
He has submitted that the statement was made in the heat of the moment while responding to an unscheduled crowd of journalists on his way out from filing his election nomination papers at Amethi. As per his affidavit,
"The said statements were made by the Respondent in Hindi in a rhetorical flourish in the heat of the moment. It was during a political campaign without a readable copy of the Supreme Court order being available on its website and, therefore, without the answering Respondent having seen or read the order and relying upon electronic and social media reportage and the version of workers and activists surrounding the Respondent.
The answering Respondent had meant to convey that the judgment dated 14.12.2018 was neither final or binding…."
On April 10, issues relating to Court proceedings, unfortunately, got juxtaposed and mingled with a political slogan being used extensively by @RahulGandhi and @INCIndia for several months. That slogan is "Chowkidar Chor Hai".
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) April 22, 2019
Interestingly, Rahul Gandhi has listed out multiple statements of BJP leaders [Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and RS Prasad] who attributed the statements to the Supreme Court after December 14, 2018 order had come. These leaders had stated that the Supreme Court had given a clean chit to the Central government in the Rafale case. However, the same is untrue and false, Gandhi has stated while quoting from the December 2018 judgment of Supreme Court.
The statement made by Rahul Gandhi is purely political to counter the misinformation campaign being led by Senior Functionaries of the BJP that order of December 14, 2018, was a clean chit to the Govt regarding all aspects of the Rafale deal, the affidavit filed by Gandhi states.
He makes a reference to the ABP News interview of Narendra Modi, in which the PM suggested that the Supreme Court had given him a clean chit in the Rafale Deal. [Click here to watch the ABP News Interview here]
"...the Prime Minister clearly suggested that the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India had given him a clean chit in the Rafale Deal and that the channel was asking him about a "false news" as per the Supreme Court."
Rahul Gandhi goes on to explain that his response was based on immediate general perceptions and given the general sense of victory amongst those pressing for an inquiry into the Rafale deal.
"The answering Respondent’s response was based upon the immediate general perception that in the review petition filed in the so-called Rafale case, this Hon’ble Court had reopened the case for hearing, that the Court had not allowed the shutting out of new facts and documents as desired by the Government and that there was generally a sense of victory and exhilaration amongst those who had been campaigning for inquiry into the Rafale issue."
In this backdrop, Gandhi emphasises that while making the statement:
“... [he] did not have the lightest or remotest intention, desire or even thought process, to bring the court into the political arena or bring it into disrepute or attribute to it deliberately or wilfully that which the court had not said or meant."
Gandhi goes on to admit that the words in the statement in question i.e. Chowkidar Chor Hai had been uttered by him. However, he has contended that his statement has been taken out of context and deliberately misconstrued for political gains, particularly in view of the ongoing election season.
"...the meaning, interpretation, implication and effect of the words... is deliberately sought to be distorted and made tendentious by the Petitioner for political purposes.”
In fact, Gandhi has contended that by initiating the contempt process in the matter, Lekhi has abused the Court process. Congress President in his affidavit attacks the Prime Minister Narendra Modi by saying:
"There was no attempt to wilfully misrepresent the order of this Hon'ble Court. The question of willfully intending to prejudice the public against Sh. narendra Modi as is strangely suggested by the Petitioner in Para 14 of the Contempt Petition does not arise in view of the fact that it is the firm belief of the answering Respondent that Sh. Narendra Modi is involved in misdemeanours in the Rafale deal and this has been the stand of several persons in political discourse over the last year"
All the same, Gandhi has emphasised that he holds the Supreme Court in the highest esteem and that he had no intention to insinuate anything against the Court.
“...It is reiterated that there is not the slightest intention to insinuate anything…the answering Respondent holds this Hon’ble Court in the highest esteem. The answering Respondent has not done nor remotely intended to do anything to lower the majesty of this Hon'ble Court in any manner whatsoever."
The Affidavit has been drawn by Avishkar Singhvi, Madhavi Khanna, Udayan Verma and Kaustubh Singh and settled by Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
[Read Affidavit]Meenakshi Lekhi vs Rahul Gandhi (affidavit)
With a premium account you get:
- One year of unrestrcited access to previous interviews, columns and articles
- One year access to all archival material
- Access to all Bar & Bench reports