The Supreme Court’s decision allowing leaked documents to be relied upon by petitioners seeking review of its judgement on Rafale fighter jet deal led to claims and counter-claims by the BJP and the Congress.
The opposition parties said that that the Modi government has “no official secrets act” to hide behind and a probe into the “scam” will take place.
But Congress President Rahul Gandhi's claim that the apex court has made it "clear" that the prime "committed a theft" triggered accusations from the BJP that this was gross contempt of court.
"The Congress president probably doesn't read even half a paragraph of the court's order, but here, by saying that the court has said 'chowkidaar chor hai', it is verging on contempt of court," Sitharaman told a press conference.
Gandhi has crossed the line of decency in his comments on the court, she said, adding that he is repeatedly misleading people on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
“Now the SC has made it clear that 'chowkidarji' (watchman) has committed a theft,” Gandhi earlier told reporters after filing his nomination papers from the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency.
He claimed the apex court has “accepted that there is some corruption in Rafale”.
Asked whether the court order is a setback for the government, Sitharaman said, "Not at all."
The Centre has maintained there were no irregularities on pricing and selection of the Anil Ambani owned company as the offset partner of Dassault, the French manufacturer of Rafale, as alleged by the opposition. Anil Ambani has also dismissed oppsition allegations of irregularities.
Later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cited the Bofors scam to blunt the edge of the Congress president’s attack on the Rafale deal.
Addressing a poll rally in Panaji, PM Modi indicated that the Congress chief was "burdened" with "Bofors sins" of his late father (Rajiv Gandhi) and therefore, was accusing others of corruption.
The Bofors deal, signed in 1986, was believed to be one of primary reasons for the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress' defeat in the 1989 Lok Sabha polls.