In what the Congress party could see as a major boost, Ram Jethmalani, a senior Supreme Court lawyer and former member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, on Thursday wrote a scathing letter to union finance minister Arun Jaitley on black money, accusing him of taking an "ill-advised" stand on the issue in the court.
"I am sorry to write this to you on Deepawali," the three-page letter begins, later going into the details of the black money case.
Towards the end, Jethmalani writes, "You recently had a near brush with death. This should have created in you a change in your moral make up and devotion to the nation. You are destroying what Modiji has built during his last election campaign."
Accusing Jaitley of not doing enough as Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and later misleading the Supreme Court as finance minister, Jethmalani said in his letter, "I strongly suspect that your conduct shows that you too like many others do not want the truth to come out.
"Your action in approaching the Supreme Court with the kind of petition that you have filed is one of the most ill-advised steps taken."
Last week, the government filed an application in Supreme Court expressing its inability to reveal the names of Indians holding illegal foreign bank accounts because of the bilateral double taxation avoidance treaties or DTAT.
Jaitley got himself into a bit of a tangle by smirking publicly that the exposure of persons holding illicit money abroad would hurt many in the Congress, while his own BJP was lily-whilte.
The Congress riposted promptly seeking evidence, which Jaitley could not provide according to his own admission before the apex court. (See: Congress lashes back at Jaitley's 'half-truths' on black money).
In his letter, Jethmalani called the union government's application a fig leaf.
"The Germans never spoke of the DTAT. Our people deliberately brought it in as a certain method of rendering the entire investigation futile and making our corrupt rulers escape arrest and prosecution," he wrote.
In April this year, a list of Indians with bank accounts in Liechtenstein was given to the Supreme Court. However, both the then UPA and now the NDA government say the names cannot be revealed because of the DTAT.
In its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had promised to bring back the black money allegedly stashed in foreign banks by Indian citizens.
Jethmalani today told reporters that wrote the letter as a citizen of India. "I don't care about the BJP. I care about the people of India, it is your money," he said.
The apex court will hear the government's plea on 28 October.