Black money: Apex court gives a week's time to set up SIT

Black money: Apex court gives a week's time to set up SIT

Black money: Apex court gives a week's time to set up SIT

Placing black money issue on top of the Modi government’s agenda, the Supreme Court on Friday gave one week’s time to the Centre to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the stashing of money in foreign banks. 

A bench of Justices B S Chauhan and A K Sikri allowed Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran’s plea seeking another week’s time to issue notification and  comply with the apex court’s May 1 order to constitute the SIT with retired SC judges, Justice M B Shah as chairman and Justice Arijit Pasayat as vice-chairman.

The government had to rush to the apex court with the time extension plea as the three-week deadline to constitute the SIT set by a three-member  bench on May 1 expired on Thursday. 

The Centre had earlier dithered on the issues of revealing names of account holders of Germany’s Liechtenstein bank to PIL petitioner Ram Jethmalani and setting up of the SIT, despite the court’s order of July 4, 2011.

With the latest stand by the Solicitor General, the task of constituting the SIT is now left to the Modi-led government which would take charge on May 26. The court also acknowledged this fact, though in a lighter vein, by saying, “now they (government) can’t avoid it”.

Appearing in person, senior advocate Jethmalani brought up the “accidental fire” at the Shastri Bhawan that houses several ministries, saying, “there is a grave danger that correspondence relating to the German offer of supplying names (of black money account holders) could be secreted or destroyed.”

His submission prompted the apex court to direct, “all the documents relating to the matter must be kept in safe custody of office of secretary of revenue department.”

He also said that the Centre did not comply with the court’s order to disclose correspondence with the German government about supplying the names of black money account holders. 

Notably, the government had on May 8 this year filed an application seeking review of the order passed in July 2011 on formation of the SIT, saying “the issue required consideration at the highest level, including the Prime Minister.”