Rahul 'misinterpreting' SC order amounts to 'contempt of court', says Sitharaman
New Delhi, Apr 10: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman came down heavily on the Congress for saying that the Supreme Court accepted there was corruption in Rafale deal and dubbed Rahul Gandhi 'misinterpreting' the apex court order to mislead the public as 'contempt of court'.
She said the Congress president was saying things that were not said by the top court. "Who has given Rahul Gandhi the right to misinterpret the court verdict?" the Defence Minister asked.
Sitharaman said that the Congress was wrongly accusing the government of misleading the public, and claimed that it was in fact the grand old party which has done that.
"The Congress party's press conference today, drawing on the Hindu report, said the government did not give information to the CAG and the Supreme Court and asked for a correction. The CAG report was under preparation at that time. We approached the SC by ourself for correction," she said in a media briefing.
The Supreme Court earlier today rejected the preliminary objection raised by the Centre against the review pleas in the Rafale case. The court said that it would now go ahead with the hearing of the review petitions in the light of the new documents cited by the petitioners, who alleged wrong doing in the Rafale deal.
When the review was earlier filed by the petitioners, Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and Prashant Bhushan had submitted fresh documents before the court. The Centre had then pleaded that these documents were unauthorisedly photo-copied from defence files and that these would have an inimical impact on national security and also friendly relations with France.
"The SC has not produced a verdict on whether the documents are not stolen. The SC said we dismiss the objection but present the papers to us," Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today.
Sitharaman then lashed out at Rahul Gandhi for making allegedly misleading statements.
"We all know Congress president probably does not even read even half a paragraph, but here, by saying that the court has accepted and by also saying that the court has said 'Chowkidaar chor hai,' these verge on contempt of court," she added.
Further taking a jibe at the Congress president, Sitharaman said, "The person who is himself on bail, who has given him the right to misinterpret the court's verdict?"
"Where did the court say what Rahul Gandhi claimed. But today what he has done is gross contempt of court. has today the court said anything to this effect? Is baat ko Court ne maan liya. Where did the court say this? Who has given Rahul Gandhi the right to misinterpret the court verdict?" she added.
Rahul Gandhi today termed the Supreme Court's Rafale order as a "victory" for the Congress. The Supreme Court has accepted that there was corruption in Rafale and that the Prime Minister has given Rs 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani, Rahul Gandhi had said.
The Union Government on Wednesday expressed concern over the use of documents with classified information by the petitioners in the Rafale deal case to present a selective and incomplete picture before the Supreme Court. The Defence Minister statement said that the main concern of the Government is that classified information concerning National Security would come out in the public domain.
"Government had provided requisite information as desired by the Supreme Court and also provided all records and files as required by CAG. The main concern of the Government is relating to availability of sensitive and classified information concerning National Security in the public domain," the statement reportedly said.
The petitioners in the case had moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of its original verdict dated December 14 2018 in which it had given the deal a clean chit.
The court would now hear the review plea questioning the pricing of the Rafale jets.
In the original verdict, the SC had said that it found no irregularities in the government's decision making process to procure the 36 Rafale jets from Dassault under the Indo-French intergovernmental agreement.
The petitioners then sought a review of the verdict. The matter was heard at length in open court, following which the order was reserved.