New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up Congress President Rahul Gandhi's counsel even after he verbally apologised for incorrectly attributing to the top court his "chowkidar chor hai" remark. The apex court allowed the counsel to file a new affidavit by Monday.
The counsel told the court that his client would apologise for attributing the remark to the top court. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that it was extending a third opportunity to the Congress President.
Gandhi's counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi offered the apology on behalf of his client a day after the Congress President filed a reply to the apex court's notice on the issue, in which he had only expressed regret for the remark. In his affidavit, Gandhi said he had made the remark in the "heat of campaigning" and that his comment was not meant to scandalise the court in any manner.
The CJI queried the Gandhi's counsel: "What is the meaning of expressing regret within brackets...and you take 22-page affidavit to express regret..."
During the hearing, Gandhi's counsel made several attempts to defend the affidavit, and informed the court he would file a fresh affidavit. "Have you given up convincing us?" asked the court.
Advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who filed the contempt plea against Gandhi, said: "This is gross contempt...he (Gandhi) while campaigning made these derogatory remarks, and it was similar to putting words in SC"s mouth." Rohtagi also said that Gandhi in the garb of apex court judgement sought to portray as if "Supreme Court has said that PM is a thief, and people should believe it, as the top court has said it."
The top court had last week issued a notice to Rahul Gandhi asking him to explain his comment. Singhvi told the apex bench: "There were three errors on my part and I sincerely apologise. I say sorry for attributing the 'chowkidar' comment to the Supreme Court."The court said: "Where have you said all this in your affidavit?"
The court observed that the content of the affidavit filed by the Congress President was contradictory on separate pages in the affidavit.
The court said: "You have contradicted yourself in the affidavit. At one place, you admit, but on the other, you deny saying it. If you start arguing on the basis of this affidavit, we won't give you another opportunity to file a better affidavit."
The court said that it is finding it difficult to comprehend the arguments made by the Gandhi's counsel. "We are having difficulty in understanding what you are saying," said the court.
To which, Singhvi said: "I've checked the dictionary. 'Regret' means an 'apology'." Rohatgi said: "He claims to be a literate person. But in the affidavit he said: 'I didn't read or analyse the order when I made this comment'. Three hours later, he repeats it at a different rally. What kind of regret is he talking about?"
Giving Gandhi the third chance, the bench said it should not, however, be viewed as an acknowledgement of past affidavits. "I will make a better affidavit from now and place it before the court on Monday," said Singhvi.
The court on May 6, will consider the admissibility of the new affidavit.