Rahul Gandhi’s apology in the Supreme Court on the Rafale issue is not a sincere one but forced by the fear of the court. He had clearly committed an act of contempt by wrongfully saying that the court had held Prime Minister Narendra Modi guilty whereas the court had not said any such thing.

While an “apology” issued grudgingly may have given him some reprieve, what about the falsehood he spread among the people? What he said was echoed by his party workers. 

Apology has become fashionable in politics in India. You level false and baseless allegations against a political party or a leader and keep repeating the lies until someone takes you to court. What you have to do simply is to offer an unconditional apology.

Apology has a meaning when you genuinely feel that your statement was wrong and it hurt the other person unintentionally. It loses its thrust if motivated by fear of being punished because you realise you had clearly gone wrong and you cannot substantiate the wild allegations you made.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi, the unstoppable lie machine

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal rose to political prominence hurling one abuse after the other against senior politicians and political parties and claimed to the media that he was in possession of so-called documentary proofs of his allegations. But after coming to power, he has been apologising to one and all — whoever took him to court for spreading lies. It appeared as if he was in an apology spree.

Six Aam Aadmi Party leaders had made allegations of financial irregularities against Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) when senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley was its president. Jaitley took them to court. Their spine bent manifold and four of them — Arvind Kejriwal, Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh and Raghav Chadha — gave unconditional apology to Jaitley on 2 April 2018.

“… these allegations made by me were based on information and papers furnished before me by certain individuals who represented to have first-hand insight into the affairs of DGCA. However, I have recently discovered that the information and the imputations contained therein are unfounded and unwarranted and I was clearly misinformed into making these allegations. Therefore, I unequivocally withdraw all the allegations made by me in question whether in print, electronic or social media against you.  I offer my sincere apology to you and your family members for any harm caused to your reputation as a consequence of my allegations,” their apology read.

Kejriwal apologised to Union minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari similarly. “I made certain statements, without regard to its verifiability, which seem to have hurt you,” his apology said. He apologised to former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia after having levelled serious charges against the latter that he was involved in drug trade. He admitted the allegations were unfounded.

Also read: From ‘regret’ to ‘ignorance’, ‘chor’ to ‘hon'ble PM’, Rahul Gandhi replies to SC’s show cause in criminal contempt case

Rahul Gandhi apparently appreciates the style of Kejriwal of lying and making false and baseless allegations. He tried that with his concocted takes on the deal for Rafale fighter planes. He lied big-time, saying that the entire offset of Rs 30,000 crore was given to a company of Anil Ambani. The fact is, there are close to 100 companies that are offset partners of Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer and supplier of the Rafale aircraft.

The Supreme Court looked into the classified documents given by the government and did not find any problem with either process, pricing or the offset clause. The matter was discussed threadbare in Parliament and every aspect was discussed and explained. 

A group of petitioners found out some classified documents that were stolen and produced these as additional documents, saying these were not given by the government to the court. The government argued that these documents should not be taken into cognisance, but the court decided otherwise while considering a review petition.

Rahul Gandhi’s lawyers perhaps did not tell him that the review was a normal process in the court, but the results of reviews have not been positive all the time. In most cases, the Supreme Court rejects the review petition. But Rahul Gandhi interpreted the admission of additional documents as the court saying “chowkidar chor hai”!

Gandhi’s apology did not come across as an act of remorse because he continued making the same allegation. At first, it was “regret”. On being rebuked by the Supreme Court, he converted this into an “apology”.

The issue is whether the country should take the Congress president seriously. For the courts, the matter needs a serious consideration: Can apologies not borne out of remorse be accepted as genuine? Should punishment be not meted out to a person who is caught tendering an apology out of fear of the law? Let people in public life be more serious about the statements they make.

The writer is a national spokesman of the BJP, former journalist and practising lawyer; his Twitter handle is @SudeshBJP