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SC says interested in black money coming back, not in disclosure of names

The highest court in country asks SIT probing the black money case to report to it in a sealed cover action taken so far

M J Antony  |  New Delhi 

The Supreme Court today asked the parties who have moved the court for bringing back black money stashed abroad to give their complaints and suggestions to the special investigating team (SIT) set up by it to investigate the problem.

The court also asked SIT to report to it in a sealed cover the action taken by it. The court was not willing to go farther than that.

The bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu passed the order when Ram Jethmalani and his counsel Anil Divan complained that "not a single rupee has come to this country” all the while.

“Only some search and attachment here and there have been conducted,” Divan said.

Former Union Law Minister Jethmalani, who filed the petition, expressed his “total disappointment” with the events and asserted that unless a law is made in this connection nothing would happen.

In fact, he drafted a law and sent it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who passed it on to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. “But nothing has been heard from anyone; at least say something or I will go to the people,” he said.

Divan and intervener Prashant Bhushan reiterated their demand for publication of their names as a deterrent to those who hold money abroad, which is being channeled to drugs, terrorism and human trafficking.

The government must also put in public domain the action it has taken so far. Reserve Bank should also disclose information on suspicious accounts.

Already international investigative journalists have published some 1,200 names of account holders, counsel said. However, the court asserted that it would not order disclosure of the names and the issue was bringing back the money.

Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi submitted that the government has handed over all information with it to SIT and those who have complaints and suggestions could approach it.

He claimed that many account holders have paid penalty under the income tax law and brought money back to the country. On behalf of SIT, Soli Sorabjee submitted that it will file a detailed report by mid-April.

SIT’s suggestions include establishment of additional courts in Mumbai to expedite tax matters relating to this issue, making tax evasion a scheduled offence under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, amendment to FEMA to provide for attachment of equivalent assets, imposing ceiling of cash holding, curbing underinvoicing and tallying import-export data with foreign governments.

First Published: Tue, January 20 2015. 17:01 IST