Rahul Gandhi tenders unconditional apology

New Delhi, May 08 (PTI):
Congress President Rahul Gandhi Wednesday tendered unconditional apology in the Supreme Court for wrongfully attributing his “chowkidar chor hai” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the apex court in the Rafale verdict. Gandhi, who filed an additional affidavit, said he holds the apex court in the “highest esteem and respect” and any attributions to it were “entirely unintentional, non-wilful and inadvertent”. He also urged the top court to close the criminal contempt proceedings initiated on a petition filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who alleged that Gandhi attributed the personal remarks to the apex court and tried to create prejudice. The three-page affidavit was filed by the Congress president after he had drawn flak from the apex court on April 30 over his earlier affidavit in which he had not directly admitted his mistake for incorrectly attributing the allegedly contemptuous remark to the top court. “The deponent (Rahul Gandhi) unconditionally apologises for the wrongful attributions to this court. The deponent further states that any such attributions were entirely unintentional, non-wilful and inadvertent,” Gandhi said in his fresh affidavit filed in the apex court. “The deponent (Gandhi) most respectfully prays that this court may be graciously pleased to accept the instant affidavit and close the present contempt proceedings,” he stated in the affidavit.
Lekhi has filed the contempt plea against Gandhi for the “chowkidar chor hai” remarks against Modi, which the top court had said were incorrectly attributed to it.
In his fresh affidavit, Gandhi said that he has never intended to, directly or indirectly, commit any act which interferes with the process of administration of justice.
“At the outset the deponent herein most respectfully submits that he holds this court in the highest esteem, and respect. The deponent has never sought or intended to, directly or indirectly, commit any act that it interferes with the process of administration of justice,” he said.
Gandhi also said that the affidavit is made “bona fide and in the interest of justice, and nothing material has been concealed therefrom”.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is scheduled to hear Lekhi’s contempt plea against Gandhi on May 10 along with the review petitions in the Rafale deal case.
Gandhi had earlier filed two affidavits in the apex court in the matter and had written the word “regret” in bracket in both of them.
During the hearing on April 30, senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Gandhi, had told the court that regret was “same as apology”.
However, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Lekhi, had objected to the word “regret” in bracket and said that Gandhi should tender an unconditional apology in the court.
Gandhi had made the remarks on April 10, the day the apex court had dismissed the Centre’s preliminary objections over admissibility of certain documents for supporting the review petitions against the December 14 last year verdict in the Rafale case.
The apex court on April 15 had given a categorical clarification that in its Rafale verdict there was no occasion for it to make a mention of the contemptuous observation that “chowkidar Narendra Modi chor hain” as has been attributed to it by Gandhi.
On April 30, the top court had given another opportunity to Gandhi to file a better affidavit relating to his remark.
“When you commit mistake, you should admit the mistake,” the bench had said pointing out that in his previous affidavit, at one point, Gandhi was admitting the mistake and at another denying having made the contemptuous remarks.
“We have great difficulty in understanding what you want to say in the affidavit,” the court had said.
Gandhi, in his explanation filed in the court earlier, had said that his statement was made in the “heat of political campaigning” and there was not the “slightest intention to insinuate” anything regarding the Supreme Court proceedings in any manner.
He had said that his April 10 statement was made in purely political context to counter the “misinformation campaign” being led by senior BJP functionaries as well as the government that the apex court verdict of December 14 last year was a “clean chit” to the Centre regarding all the aspects of the Rafale deal.
Gandhi had clarified that he did not have the “slightest 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 willfully that which the court had not said or meant”.
He had also said that his statement was made during a “political campaign without a readable copy of the Supreme Court order” being available on its website and he had neither seen nor read the order.
Gandhi, who said that he was a responsible political and public figure heading a 130-year-old political party, had sought dismissal of Lekhi’s plea saying it was an “abuse of process” of the court.

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