SC rejects centre's plea over black money probe

SC rejects centre's plea over black money probe

SC rejects centre's plea over black money probe

The Supreme Court Wednesday rejected the centre's plea seeking recall of the court's order setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the flight of unaccounted money in foreign banks.

The court also slammed the successive governments at the centre in the last 65 years for doing nothing to bring back the black money stashed away in tax havens abroad. The bench of Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Madan B. Lokur said that since 1947, nobody thought of taking back this money.

After 65 years, at least a citizen in 2011 came and complained that the economy of the country was getting destroyed on account of black money getting parked in tax havens, the court said.

The court said this as it turned down the centre's plea for the recall of the court's July 4, 2011, order to set up a Special Investigation Team headed by its two former judges to monitor investigations into stashing away of black money in tax havens.

A bench of Justice B. Sudershan Reddy (since retired) and Justice S.S. Nijjar on July 4, 2011, appointed the SIT headed by Justice (retd) B.P. Jeevan Reddy with Justice M.B. Shah as his deputy.

Appreciating counsel Ram Jethmalani for bringing the issue before the court, Justice Dattu said: "If the money is brought back, we need not pay 30 percent tax."

Pulling up the government for its inaction on bringing back the black money, the court said: "There will be a body (SIT) because you have failed. Were you not aware where the black money is deposited? You know it very well."

"Even if you have taken steps, this court being the highest court and the constitutional court can pass such an order," Justice Dattu said.

"This is an unusual situation. This court wants that the black money stashed in foreign banks should be accounted. This court took cudgels. Therefore, we kept the matter pending. Therefore, we must monitor," the court said.

Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran told the court it was not expected to monitor the SIT investigation as there were several other authorities empowered under the law.

He told the court the government has taken concrete action and launched prosecution against Hasan Ali and Kashiram Topuria allegedly engaged in money laundering.

Apparently not impressed, the court said the order setting up the SIT was in the economic interest of the country and it feels that the black money should come back.It also said it felt the government failed in bringing back the money and appointed the former judge of the apex court to head the SIT.

"If you had not failed, we would not have passed the order directing the setting up of the SIT to monitor the investigation," the court told Parasaran.

The matter came before the three-judge bench following a split verdict between then Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S.S. Nijjar on the maintainability of the centre's pleas seeking the recall and modification of the July 4, 2011, order.

Justice Kabir (since retired) and Justice Nijjar on Sep 23, 2011, referred to Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia (since retired) the maintainability of the central government's application, seeking recall of the July 4 judgment setting up the SIT.

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