Hypocritical stand on black money

Hypocritical stand on black money

The NDA government’s position on black money before the Supreme Court is wrong and hypocritical.

 

It has told the court that it cannot disclose the names of people holding accounts in foreign banks and has requested the court not to insist on their disclosure. The government has a list of names of people who have accounts in a Liechtenstein bank, as the list had been passed on to India during the time of the UPA government. The UPA government refused to make the names public, citing legal obligations and commitments arising from international treaties as the reason for its refusal. The NDA government has also taken the same position in the court but the difference is that the BJP and its leaders had attacked the UPA government over the issue in the harshest terms. The U-turn taken by the government now is a sure sign of the moral and political dissimulation that is increasingly marking the public positions of parties. 

The BJP had made a big public issue of the then government’s refusal to disclose the names and had charged that the government was shielding those who had stashed away money from the country in illegal foreign accounts. It had actively supported movements like the Anna Hazare agitation on the matter and had stalled the functioning of Parliament over issues of corruption and black money. It was a major campaign  issue of the party in the Lok Sabha election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi  had promised that  if the BJP  came to power the new government would disclose the names and bring the black money in the foreign accounts back to the country within hundred days.

What the government has till now done is only to set up a special investigation team on the direction of the Supreme Court. It has claimed that disclosure of the names would violate the confidentiality agreements in double taxation avoidance treaties. But these agreements were very much there when the BJP made its promises and it was well aware of them. That shows that it was taking an opportunistic position of convenience and not of sincere intent and conviction.

The government should not resort to unconvincing excuses and  should make the names public in accordance with the commitment it had made to the people. Otherwise the conclusion will be that it also has a vested interest in concealing the names, just as the BJP had alleged the UPA government had. The government should also inform the people what action it has taken or proposes to take on the information it has got with it. It is a matter of its credibility and claimed commitment to fair and impartial enforcement of the law.   

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