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Recovery of black money from foreign shores
Centre assures SC of details in 48 hours
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 22
The Centre today assured the Supreme Court that it would provide “within 48 hours” the details of the steps it had taken to bring back the black money stashed away in secret bank accounts oversees.

Questioning the timing of a PIL that had sought the court’s direction to the Centre to unearth unaccounted funds running into thousands of crores, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said the government had swung into action within 24 hours of the first media report in this connection.

Arguing before a Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, the ASG said the PIL had quoted a media report that had appeared on August 18, 2008, but the government had initiated action on February 28 last year, just a day after the publication of a similar news item.

The reports had talked about Germany willing to share information it had secured from a bank that offered anonymity to its clients. The government approached Germany immediately, seeking details of accounts held by Indian citizens, he said.

Former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani, former Punjab Police chief KPS Gill and Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap are among the six “super senior citizens” who have filed the PIL.

In his strong defence, obviously aimed at taking the sting out of the charge that the Centre had virtually done precious little to deal with parallel economy, the ASG said the timing of the PIL in the midst of the 15th Lok Sabha poll was mystifying.

He said the PM had taken up the issue with the G20, comprising advanced nations, at the recent summit at London. Singh had raised the subject of ending the secrecy in banking operations in some countries both in his speech and at the interactions he had with G20 leaders. This resulted in the summit declaration acknowledging the need for coordinated efforts, the ASG contended.

Further, India was the torchbearer of the issue at the 30-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), taking it up under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) mechanism.

The ASG, however, refused to disclose whether the government had succeeded in unearthing black money, stating “I can’t make further disclosure.”

The Bench posted the next hearing for May 4.

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