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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Rahul clarifies SC comments but keeps up Rafale attack on Modi

His reaction to the court order “unfortunately got juxtaposed and mingled with the political slogan – Chowkidar Chor Hai,” Gandhi stated in the affidavit filed before the court.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 23, 2019 13:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,Rahul Gandi,Rafale
Gandhi filed an affidavit in response to a contempt petition filed against him by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Meenakshi Lekhi.(HT Photo)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday clarified that his remarks made in connection with the Supreme Court’s order related to the review of the Rafale case were in the heat of the moment during a political campaign and not meant to obstruct administration of justice or scandalise the court in any manner — although he maintained that the Rafale deal is “tainted” and seemed to suggest that if he has misinterpreted the court’s order on the review petition, then so have many ministers of the government who passed off the order in the original case as a “clean chit” to the deal.

His reaction to the court order “unfortunately got juxtaposed and mingled with the political slogan – Chowkidar Chor Hai,” Gandhi stated in the affidavit filed before the court.

Gandhi filed an affidavit in response to a contempt petition filed against him by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Meenakshi Lekhi. The BJP leader said that Gandhi had substituted the court order with his views and attributed the political slogan to the court. She alleged Gandhi had said the “Supreme Court has said Chowkidar Chor Hai.”

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On April 15, the court sought Gandhi’s explanation on Lekhi’s petition.

Gandhi’s affidavit read: “It (statement) has been used (and misused) by my political opponents to project that I had deliberately and intentionally suggested that this court had said Chowkidar Chor Hai! Nothing could be farther from my mind. It is also clear that no court would ever do that and hence the unfortunate references (for which I express regret) to the court order and to the political slogan in juxtaposition the same breath in the heat of political campaigning ought not to be construed as suggesting that the court had given any finding or conclusion on that issue.”

Gandhi’s comment was a reaction to the April 10 order that rejected the Centre’s objection to the maintainability of review petitions in Rafale case and which allowed the petitioners to rely upon leaked documents. He clarified in his affidavit that it was given without having access to the actual court order and was based on social media reports.

In response to Gandhi’s affidavit, the BJP demanded an apology from him and said he was a “liar of the first order”.

“...his credibility has taken a beating. I feel sorry that the president of a national party like the Congress depends only on falsehood,” BJP spokesperson and Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Gandhi also maintained in his affidavit that he and his party believe the Rafale deal is a tainted transaction. He alleged that several leaders of the ruling party termed the verdict a clean chit to the government and has cited instances of this.

Earlier this month, the SC allowed three sets of documents to be used in the Rafale review petition, rejecting protests from the government which cited various grounds including national security to block the use of these papers.

Gandhi, who was in Amethi to file his nomination papers, reacted to the news, 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.”

Last week, the court made it clear that it had not made any of the comments attributed to it by Rahul Gandhi and only decided “a purely legal question of admissibility of certain documents”.

“At the outset, it is reiterated that there was not the slightest intention to insinuate anything regarding the Supreme Court proceedings in any manner,” Gandhi said in his affidavit. He did not have the slightest intention or 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.”

“It is also noteworthy that the Rafale issue had been and continues to be one of the most prominent political and social issues in this country for many months and despite the matter being subjudice, has been the subject of incessant discussion in civil society and the media,”he claimed in his affidavit.

The Congress has maintained that the new deal struck by the NDA government, which replaced an old deal negotiated by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), entails buying the fighter jets at a higher price.

The government has denied this.

The Supreme Court also said in a judgment that it doesn’t see the need for a court-monitored probe into the deal and that it is convinced due process was followed, but is now hearing a review petition on this.

First Published: Apr 23, 2019 01:17 IST

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