The Supreme Court has issued a notice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi on a contempt petition filed against him by Bharatiya Janata Party MP from New Delhi Meenakshi Lekhi. Lekhi had said that Gandhi attributed his remarks ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ on the Rafale jet deal verdict to the apex court.
“We make it clear the statement attributed to this court in the address made by the respondent (Rahul Gandhi) to the media and public have been incorrectly attributed to this court. We make it clear this court never made such observation. We only decided on the admissibility of documents,” three judges led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.
Congress president made a remark that the “Supreme Court has said chowkidar chor hai” in the verdict, this was referred to the Supreme court bench by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Lekhi.
The Supreme Court had directed the Congress chief to explain this statement attributed to the top court and submit a reply by next Monday. “This court had no occasion to make such observation, only decided on the legal question of admissibility of documents,” a bench said. The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on April 23.
“He [Gandhi] is replacing his personal statement as Supreme Court’s order and trying to create prejudice,” Lekhi said. She mentioned in her petition that “the words used and attributed by him to the SC in the Rafale case has been made to appear something else. He is replacing his personal statement as the Supreme Court’s order and trying to create prejudice”.
Meenakshi Lekhi, the BJP Member of Parliament from the New Delhi constituency later tweeted after reporting to the Apex Court.
“Filed a Criminal Court of Contempt against serial offender Rahul Gandhi. He attributed his own statements as Court’s verdict. Misrepresenting and lowering the dignity of the SC. Vilifying the Constitutional authorities!” she said in a post on Twitter.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had earlier accused Gandhi of contempt. She said, ‘the Congress president is using abusive words against the Prime Minister that is untrue. He is repeatedly calling the Prime Minister a chor’ by putting words in the mouth of the Supreme Court.’
Earlier a BJP delegation, including defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had approached the Election Commission demanding action against Rahul Gandhi over his remark against Modi on Rafale deal.
The BJP delegation had urged the EC to take cognisance of Rahul’s abusive remarks against the Prime Minister and initiate action.
The Supreme verdict
In a setback to the Centre, the Supreme Court had earlier this month dismissed the government’s preliminary objections claiming “privilege” over the documents related to Rafale deal allowing leaked documents to be relied upon by petitioners seeking review of its Rafale judgement.
Rahul Gandhi, while welcoming the Supreme Court’s decision to examine fresh revelations on the Rafale deal on April 10, made remarks about Prime Minister and the alleged corruption. Lekhi claimed the imputation that the court had ruled as much was contempt because it imputed words to the court that it hadn’t said.
Ecstatic over the Supreme Court’s decision, Gandhi claimed a moral victory and said that the court has made it clear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “committed theft”.
“The Supreme Court has made it clear that ‘chowkidarji’ (watchman) has committed a theft,” Gandhi spoke during a rally in Amethi.
How BJP gained from this?
The ‘chowkidar chor hai’ campaign was raised by the Congress party and its chief Rahul Gandhi much against the PM. The BJP, however, seemed unaffected by the controversy and evolved its own campaign ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar‘.
The Prime Minister released a video on social media, saying “Your Chowkidar is standing firm and serving the nation”. The video posted by the PM on Twitter, featuring a song with lyrics showcasing the Modi government’s initiatives, racked up more than 50,000 likes and 19,000 retweets on the micro-blogging website. “But, I am not alone. Everyone who is fighting corruption, dirt, social evils is a Chowkidar. Everyone working hard for the progress of India is a Chowkidar,” PM Modi said in the tweet.
The campaign received a tremendous response with people posting their pictures claiming ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’.