Court should not be dragged into political discourse: Supreme Court on Rahul Gandhi contempt case

File photo. Photograph:( ANI )

ANI New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 14, 2019, 04.08 PM (IST)

The Supreme Court on Thursday closed a contempt case against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his "chowkidar chor hai" (Watchman is the thief) remark with a "word of caution" to him and observed that no court should be dragged into political discourse.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi closed the contempt petition and accepted Rahul Gandhi's apology for wrongly attributing his infamous "chowkidar chor hai" remark in Rafale case to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and opined that a person holding a place of importance in political spectrum should have been more careful.

"We would not like to continue these proceedings further and, thus, close the contempt proceedings with a word of caution for the contemnor to be more careful in the future. No court should be dragged into this political discourse," the apex court stated in the verdict.

The comments were made by Gandhi in pursuant to the top court's order on the Rafale deal. Gandhi, who was then the president of the Congress party, allegedly said that the apex court had accepted that "chowkidar" (a reference to Prime Minister Modi), is a "chor" (thief).

BJP lawmaker Meenakshi Lekhi accused Gandhi of misquoting the court and filed a contempt petition. Gandhi had then tendered an unconditional apology to the court and sought closure of the contempt proceedings against him. The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, today observed that Gandhi made allegations without verification.

"The contemnor (Rahul Gandhi) deemed it appropriate to make statements as if this Court had given an imprimatur to his allegations against the Prime Minister, which was far from the truth," the bench said.

The top court said that initially Gandhi did not accept his mistake or tendered an apology, but later during the course of proceedings, a "better wisdom" dawned on him.

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"We would not like to continue these proceedings further and, thus, close the contempt proceedings with a word of caution for the contemnor to be more careful in the future. No court should be dragged into this political discourse," the apex court stated in the verdict.