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Black money: SC wants all names today
Apex court raps Centre for trying to ‘protect’ account holders in overseas banks
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 28
The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to submit by tomorrow all bank account details received from foreign countries so that it could expedite the process for bringing back black money.

“Unless we monitor the black money investigation, nothing will come out in our lifetime,” a three-member Bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who sought modification of the SC order on disclosure of all information on foreign bank accounts. The court pulled up the government for seeking the modification saying it was accepted by the then UPA government. The government was seeking to create a “protective umbrella” for those holding bank accounts in foreign countries, it observed.

The Centre said it had received the details from Germany and France under bilateral treaties which had provision for making public only those bank accounts that were illegal and had black money. Breaching this confidentiality clause would prompt Switzerland and other countries, which had also agreed to supply such information on similar conditions, to back off, the AG said.

The Bench, which included Justices Ranjana Desai and Madan Lokur, however, rejected the government’s plea for naming only those who were found to have black money in foreign bank accounts.

“Why are you taking the trouble of investigation? You give us all the details you have received from other countries. We will direct the Income Tax Department and other relevant agencies to have the accounts investigated within stipulated deadlines,” the Bench told the Centre.

The AG sought time to provide the details, but the CJI said since Justice Desai would retire on October 29, the Bench would want the details by 10.30 am tomorrow when the PIL case on black money would be heard again.

During the arguments, the AG went to the extent of saying that by forcing the government to breach the confidentiality clause, the SC was ensuring that the government wouldn’t get details of black money from foreign countries in the future.

The government had already given the entire details to the SC-appointed probe panel headed by retired apex court judge MB Shah and there was no problem in sharing it with the Bench, the AG said.

“We are not interested in protecting anybody. We want the black money to come back to India. But this is possible only if foreign countries give us the details for which we have to abide by bilateral treaties,” Rohatgi said.

It said senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, the main PIL petitioner on black money, had informed the court that according to German authorities, they were willing to share more information on bank accounts but the Indian government was not even asking for it. “We will not change a word of our order which was dictated in the open court and accepted by the previous (UPA-II) government. We share the concern of the PIL petitioner. It is not the litigation of Ram Jethmalani. He is only an informer to us. We have acted on his information,” the Bench said.

Will submit list today: Jaitley

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government will submit the entire list of black money account holders to the SC in a sealed envelope on Wednesday
  • While Jaitley said no one would be protected, he did not comment on whether the government was open to making the list public

Bench rejects govt plea

  • The Bench rejected the government’s plea for naming only those who were found to have black money in foreign bank accounts
  • Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had sought modification of an SC order on disclosure of all information on foreign bank accounts
  • He contended India had treaties with countries that allowed making public only those bank accounts that were illegal
  • Breaching this confidentiality clause would prompt countries such as Switzerland to back off





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