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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

‘Not our views’: Supreme Court asks Rahul Gandhi to explain Rafale remark

BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi had complaints to the Supreme Court that the words attributed by Rahul Gandhi to the Supreme Court in the Rafale case had been “made to appear something else”.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2019 20:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Supreme Court will next hear the case on April 23
Supreme Court will next hear the case on April 23(AFP file photo)
         

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been told by the Supreme Court to explain his remarks during the Lok Sabha campaign where he attributed comments to the top court which had ruled on the admissibility of three sets of documents in the Rafale review petition.

The bench said Gandhi had incorrectly attributed “views, observations and findings” in the Rafale case to the top court. Gandhi has been given till next Monday to come up with his explanation. The court, however, has not issued a formal notice to him yet.

“We also make it clear that this court had no occasion to record any such views or make observations in as much as what was decided by this court was the legal admissibility of certain document to which objections were raised,” the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Rajan Gogoi said.

BJP lawmaker Meenakshi Lekhi had last week filed a contempt petition against the Congress president for his attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi that she said, “replaced his personal statement as Supreme Court’s order “ and tried to create prejudice.

Watch: Explained: Why Rahul Gandhi is in the Supreme Court’s crosshairs 

Gandhi, who was in Amethi to file his nomination papers, had reacted to this setback to the government, saying: “Now the Supreme Court has made it clear that ‘chowkidarji’ (watchman) has committed a theft… I want to directly challenge that the Supreme Court has stated that you have indulged in corruption.”

The BJP and its top leaders had taken umbrage at the Congress president’s remarks, accusing him of wildly exaggerating and misquoting the court’s observations and the context. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said Rahul Gandhi’s statement was contempt of contempt of court and was the Congress’s attempt to “perpetrate their own lies”.

Her party later filed a formal complaint against Gandhi with the Election Commission, charging him of lying. The Congress party wants to “perpetrate their own lies”. She further added that Gandhi’s comments are not based on the facts.

In her petition before the Supreme Court, Meenakshi Lekhi had complained that “the words used and attributed by him (Gandhi) to the Supreme Court in the Rafale case has been made to appear something else. He is replacing his personal statement as Supreme Court’s order and trying to create prejudice.”

The government’s April 2015 decision to buy 36 Rafale warplanes has been at the heart of the Congress-led opposition campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP-led national coalition. The $8.7 billion government-to-government deal replaced the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime’s decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, 108 of which were to be made in India by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

The deal has become controversial with the Opposition, led by the Congress, claiming that the price at which India is buying Rafale aircraft now is Rs 1,670 crore for each, three times the Rs 526 crore, the initial bid by the company when the UPA was trying to buy the aircraft. It has also claimed the previous deal included a technology transfer agreement with HAL. The NDA has not disclosed details of the price.

First Published: Apr 15, 2019 12:00 IST