SC issues contempt notice to Rahul Gandhi over remarks on Rafale deal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Congress president Rahul Gandhi on a petition filed against him by BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi for allegedly making contemptuous remarks in connection with its order on the admissibility of certain document in the Rafale deal. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi sought an explanation from Gandhi on or before April 22 for allegedly misquoting the court. It posted the matter for hearing to April 23.

The bench also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Deepak Gupta observed that it had not commented or said or passed any remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it was primarily deciding the admissibility of certain documents cited in petitions seeking review of the December 14 verdict in the Rafale deal. Lekhi has claimed, “The words used and attributed by him to the Supreme Court in the Rafale case were made to appear something else. He was replacing his personal statement as the Supreme Court’s order and was trying to create prejudice.”

The contempt petition accused Gandhi of misquoting the order when he said the apex court had accepted that ‘chowkidar’ (a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi), is a “chor’ (thief). “Rahul Gandhi has misquoted the Supreme Court order and he made the remarks to influence voters during the Lok Sabha elections,” Lekhi had said.

The court had fixed the hearing of the plea for today after it was mentioned by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi on April 12. Gandhi, while speaking to the media in Amethi, had said, “The Supreme Court has made it clear that “chowkidar” allowed “theft and that it had accepted that some sort of corruption had taken place in the Rafale deal”.

The court had on April 10 dismissed the Centre’s preliminary objections claiming “privilege” over three Rafale documents cited in petitions seeking review of the December 14 verdict on the fighter jet deal. In a unanimous judgement, the court had allowed the admissibility of the three documents and said the review pleas will be heard on merits.