SIT to probe black money

PM discusses core issues with heads of states

SIT to probe black money

Rushing to meet the Supreme Court set deadline which was to  expire on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, in its first decision after taking charge, announced the formation of a “high-profile” special investigating team (SIT) to probe black money stashed abroad.

Though the apex court, back on July 4, 2011, directed the then UPA government to constitute a 10-member SIT headed by former SC judge M B Shah, the Manmohan Singh government had been dragging its feet.

Finally, the Supreme Court on May 23 gave the Centre one week’s time to issue notification in compliance with its order of May 1, appointing retired SC judges Justice M B Shah as chairman and Justice Arijit Pasayat as vice-chairman of the SIT. Interestingly, outgoing Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran had left the task to the Modi government.

In its first cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi,  the government picked Revenue Secretary, directors of CBI, IB, RAW and Enforcement Directorate, besides Central Board for Direct Taxes Chairman and RBI deputy governor to pack the high-powered SIT, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters on Tuesday. The Cabinet meeting lasted one-and-a-half hours.

“In the first Cabinet meeting of the new government...in the light of the directions of the SC, we have constituted an SIT for unearthing black money... This was an important issue for us,” the minister said.

He said the Cabinet will meet again in the next 24 hours to decide the date of convening the 16th Lok Sabha for newly elected MPs to take oath and conduct other proceedings.

Making efforts to bring back black money stashed in foreign banks was part of the BJP’s election promise and was mentioned right at the top of the 2014 poll manifesto. The  party manifesto had said that on coming to power it would set up an SIT which would also recommend amendments to existing laws or enact new laws to make them more effective.

“The process of bringing black money to India, which belongs to India, will be put in motion on priority. We will also proactively engage with foreign governments to facilitate information sharing on black money,” it said.

For years now, the BJP had made black money a political issue and senior leader L K Advani had taken out a ‘rath yatra’ to make people aware of influential people robbing the nation of its wealth by illegally wiring money abroad.

After facing heat from the Supreme Court which was hearing a PIL filed by eminent persons and social activists, including jurist Ram Jethmalani in 2009, the UPA government had managed to secure names of a bunch of people who had held accounts in foreign banks in Switzerland and other tax havens.

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