The Supreme Court closed the contempt proceedings against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with 'a word of caution for the contemnor to be more careful in future.'
The Bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph said that the persons holding such important positions in the political spectrum must be more careful and that a Court should not be dragged into this political discourse.
The bench said:
"It is unfortunate that without verification or even perusing as to what is the order passed, the contemnor 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. This was not one sentence or a one off observation but a repeated statement in different manners conveying the same. No doubt the contemnor should have been far more careful".
About the Additional Affidavit filed by Gandhi, the court said that the matter was compounded by filing a 20 page affidavit with a large number of documents annexed rather than simply accepting the mistake and giving an unconditional apology.
"We do believe that persons holding such important positions in the political spectrum must be more careful. As to what should be his campaign line is for a political person to consider. However, this Court or for that matter no court should be dragged into this political discourse valid or invalid, while attributing aspects to the Court which had never been held by the Court. Certainly Mr. Gandhi needs to be more careful in future. However, in view of the subsequent affidavit, better sense having prevailed, 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 future".
The contempt case was heard along with the review petitions filed against the December 14, 2018 judgment which had refused to order probe into corruption allegations in Rafale deal.
On April 10, the SC had overruled the preliminary objections raised by the Centre against accepting the media reports produced by the review petitioners and had decided to hear the review petition on merits.
In this context, Rahul Gandhi made a remark during the election campaign that the Supreme Court had said 'chowkidar chor hain', alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Following this, BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi filed the contempt case, alleging that Rahul Gandhi was twisting Supreme Court verdict for political campaigning.
The then Congress chief later expressed apology to the court for attributing the comment, and said that the remark was made in the heat of political campaigning.