SIT in black money can't act as 'super power' Centre tells SC

SIT in black money can't act as 'super power' Centre tells SC

Attorney General G E Vahanvati making a plea for recall of the apex court's July 4 order on the SIT said the Government had "very serious" reservations on the directions which had also cast aspersions on sincerity of the Government in tackling the black money menace.

"It (SIT) can't act as a super power or you forget Parliament. If the SIT has to function it needs funds. But it is finally Parliament which has to approve it," Vahanvati told a bench of justices Altamas Kabir and S S Nijjar.

He alleged that the earlier bench headed by Justice B Sudershan Reddy(since retd) of which Justice Nijjar was a member had passed an erroneous judgement in which it was commented that the Government was weak, soft and hand-in-glove with mafia elements.

"We had passed the orders after going through the proceedings. The team is the same except the two judges," the bench remarked pointing out that the SIT was initially constituted by the Centre and the apex court had merely incorporated the names of retired SC judges justices B P Jeevan Reddy and M B Shah.

The Attorney General argued that the wide powers conferred on the SIT has "dislodged every authority under the various Acts like FEMA, Income Tax, Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

"How can the Deputy Governor of RBI, the Director of RAW become an investigator. Director of the RAW, many people even do not know his name. He is a faceless person how can he be brought to investigate?" Vahanvati asked.

However, senior counsel Anil Divan appearing for the petitioners Ram Jethmalani and others said there was nothing wrong in the setting up of the SIT as the apex court had done in a number of earlier cases like the Bandhuva Mukti Morcha and the post-Godhra Gujarat riots. The arguments would resume tomorrow.

The Centre has in its application for recall of the July 4 order contended the SIT was formed without being prayed for and has questioned remarks of the apex court that investigations into the issue of black money stashed abroad was at a "laggardly pace".

Maintaining that the earlier bench had impinged upon the domain entrusted to the executive, the Centre said the order is "contrary to the settled legal principle that the function of the court is to see that the lawful authority is duly exercised by the executive but not to take over itself the task entrusted to the executive."

"It impinges upon the well-settled principle that courts do not interfere with the economic policy which is the domain of the executive and that it is not the function of the court to sit in judgement over matters of economic policy, which must necessarily be left to expert bodies," it has said.

The government in its application raised objections to the remarks made by the apex court criticising it in black money cases while appointing former judges - Justices B P Jeevan Reddy and M B Shah - as chairman and vice-chairman of SIT.

The bench had in its order said monies generated and stashed away reveal the degree of "softness of the State".

Listing worries arising out of unaccounted monies stashed in foreign banks, the bench had said "the quantum of such monies may be rough indicators of the weakness of the State, in terms of both crime prevention, and also of tax collection".

Raising its objection to the order, the government argued courts are neither concerned with the judicial review of the economic policy nor it was required for them to substitute their views on matters which falls within the ambit of the executive.

"That the judicial review is not concerned with the matters of economic policy as the courts do not substitute their views and judgement for that of the executive as regards the matters which fall within the domain/province of the executive. It is respectfully submitted that the courts do not supplant the views of experts by its own views," the Centre's application said.

While assailing the order for setting up of the SIT and making adverse remarks, the government contended the direction will eliminate and denude the constitutional responsibility of the executive.

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