Rahul expresses regret for attributing Rafale to SC

Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses an election campaign for Lok Sabha polls. PTI

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday told the Supreme Court that his comments on Rafale judgement were made in heat of political campaigning for which he expressed his regret.

He claimed his "political opponents had tried to project that he had deliberately and intentionally suggested that this Court had said Chowkidar Chor Hai!"

Rahul filed his response after the apex court sought his explanation on a contempt petition filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi. She claimed Gandhi had incorrectly attributed to the top court that it had said "Chowkidar Narendra Modi Chor hai. (Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a thief) in its Rafale judgement."

The court asked him to clarify, saying it had never made any such statement attributed to the court.

"This court had no occasion to record such views and observations. We have decided only on legal questions of admissibility of some documents opposed by Attorney General," the bench had then said about its judgement of April 10.

In his response, "My statement was made in the heat of political campaigning.  It 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," he said.

Rahul also undertook that he will not attribute any views, observations or findings to the court in political addresses to the media and in public speeches, unless such views, observations or findings are recorded by the court.

However, he pointed out after the apex court's judgement of December 14, 2018, multiple statements were attributed to the apex court by several ministers of the ruling party including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The apex court had on April 10 stated that it would consider the leaked secret documents related to purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France.

Immediately thereafter, the Congress president had said in his rally in Amethi and interactions to the media that the Supreme Court has said – Chowkidar (referred to as Prime Minister) was a thief.

Notably, the court had then decided to examine the secret documents to reconsider its December 14, 2018 judgement that dismissed a plea for probe into the 2016 Rafale fighter jets deal. It had rejected the Union government's objections over the admissibility of the fresh materials, by saying those were already in public domain.

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