Finish black money probe before April: SC

Finish black money probe before April: SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to ensure that its income tax probe against 627 Indians found to have kept money in HSBC Bank, Geneva was not time-barred.

“We are confident that the central government will complete its proceedings on or before March 31, 2015; if it cannot be done, then they can bring some legislative measures,” a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice H L Dattu said.

The court passed its order after senior advocate Anil Divan appearing for PIL petitioner Ram Jethmalani expressed his apprehension that the probe against the persons whose information were received by the government may not be  completed by March 31, next year.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that the government was aware of the provision and there would not be any problem as now the prosecution for tax evasion can be initiated up to 16 years after commission of the offence.

Meanwhile, the bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and A K Sikri, asked Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former SC judge, Justice M B Shah, to consider the petitioner’s plea to provide certain information and correspondence without “blackening” the contents.

Divan said that Mohan Parasaran, Solicitor General during the previous UPA government, had provided some letters and documents after masking certain portions in violation of the apex court’s order of July 4, 2011.

The court also allowed a plea made by Divan and Rohatgi to approach the SIT for getting a copy of the reports of its probe into the black money cases.

Appearing as an intervenor, advocate Prashant Bhushan raised the issue of disclosing names of 250 people, who admitted to holding accounts in foreign banks, but letting them off after tax proceedings.

However, the bench did not allow his request on Rohatgi’s contention that the intervention application by Bhushan has not been allowed as yet. The court, however, asked Bhushan to make his request before the SIT.

During the hearing, Jethmalani expressed his anger at the turn of events with regard to disclosure of the names of black money holders. “See the tragedy of a person trying to recover the black money for the country. I am sitting in the Opposition. This is the tragedy of the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar was not allowed to make his submission on behalf of the SIT by the court after Divan pointed out that there was clear conflict of interest. The court said that till he submitted an authorisation letter, he could not be allowed to make his submission.

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