The Supreme Court Monday made it clear that the remarks made by Rahul Gandhi in the media on the Rafale case verdict were "incorrectly attributed" to the apex court and directed the Congress President to give his explanation by April 22. The top court gave a categorical clarification that in its Rafale judgement there was no occasion for it to make a mention of the alleged contemptuous observation that "Chowkidar Narendra Modi chor hain" as has been attributed to it by Gandhi.
The apex court decided to consider the criminal contempt petition filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi against Gandhi for attributing to it some observations that were not in the Rafale judgement. It observed that politicians should not attribute any findings or views to the court in their speeches.
In the order, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: "We have considered the matter. We make it clear that this Court had no occasion to record any view or finding or make any observation as allegedly attributed to the Court by the respondent (Gandhi) in as much as what was decided by this Court was a purely legal question of admissibility of certain documents to which objections were raised by the Attorney General." The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said: "Having clarified the matter, we deem it proper to ask Gandhi for his explanation which will be laid before us on or before April 22."
While giving liberty to Lekhi to file additional affidavit to support her criminal contempt petition against Gandhi, the bench said: "We further observe that no views, observations or findings should be attributed to the Court in political address to the media and in public speeches, unless such views, observations or findings are recorded by the Court. It posted the matter for further hearing on April 23.
Lekhi, who is a sitting Lok Sabha MP from New Delhi constituency, has in her plea alleged that Gandhi has attributed his personal remarks to the top court and tried to create prejudice. At the outset, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Lekhi, said it is a gross case of contempt committed by Gandhi who incorrectly attributed some remarks to the apex court about its judgement on Rafale case.
Rohatgi said Gandhi had come out in the public to make a remark that the "Supreme Court in its judgement said Chowkidar Narendra Modi chor hain". The bench said, "You were right to the extent we never said what has been brought in the petition. We will seek clarification".
Lekhi latched onto the apex court clarification to attack Gandhi, saying as to how the man who does not understand "Constitutional morality" and "democratic traditions" would represent Indians in Parliament. She said the Congress President does not understand "Constitutional propriety" and was dragging institutions like the Supreme Court into "shabby politics".
Lekhi said Gandhi was raking up the issue on India's Rafale fighter jet deal with France to hide their own corruption. "Out of four members of a family, three are on bail. Will they be giving lessons on honesty and integrity. To hide their own false, they are using these things," Lekhi told PTI.
She was apparently referring to the National Herald case and Enforcement Directorate case against Gandhi's brother-in-law Robert Vadra in money laundering case. The Congress President and his mother Sonia Gandhi are accused in the National Herald case in which they have been accused of cheating and misappropriating funds.
The Congress president had on April 10 claimed that the apex court has made it "clear" that Prime Minister Narendra Modi "committed a theft". He had made the statement while interacting with reporters in Amethi after filing his nomination papers where he is contesting against BJP leader and union minister Smriti Irani.
Gandhi had also recalled a recent interview by the prime minister, in which Modi had said the Supreme Court had given a clean chit to his government on the Rafale deal. The apex court, which had earlier cleared the Modi government of accusations of corruption over the Rafale deal with France, on April 10 said it will hear a review petition on the basis of the new documents referred to by petitioners.
It had on April 10 allowed the plea of petitioners relying on leaked documents for seeking review of its Rafale judgement and dismissed the government's preliminary objections claiming "privilege" over them. "I am happy and I have been saying so for months that Hindustan's PM has given the air force money to (industrialist) Anil Ambani, and the SC has accepted it. The SC is going to investigate it," Gandhi had said.
"I want to thank the SC. It's a very happy day. SC has talked about justice. Justice has prevailed," he had added. The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.
(With inputs from agencies.)