The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, questioned the UPA government’s inaction on the matter of bringing back to the country the black money allegedly stashed aboard in foreign banks and stated that the government was “ruining the economy”.
The Apex Court was deliberating upon a petition filed by the government to disband the Special investigation Team set up by the court in 2011. Lambasting the government for ‘doing nothing’ to bring back Indian money stored in foreign tax havens, apart from filing a single report in the last three years, a bench led by Justice H L Dattu dismissed the government’s plea.
Mohan Parasaran, the Solicitor General , appearing on behalf of the government had earlier called for the disbandment of the SIT set up by an order issued on July 4, 2011 order by Justice B Sudershan Reddy. The SIT was to work under two retired Supreme Court Judges, investigate and prosecute all cases of black money and was to track and facilitate bringing back the said money from aboard.
Parasaran had urged the court to dismiss the SIT, arguing that it was an unworkable mechanism without jurisdiction. He referred to ongoing investigations against Pune-based stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan and businessman Kashinath Taparia in connection with black money cases. He said that monitoring by SIT must stop as it was without jurisdiction, especially when diplomatic channels between countries were already being employed to trace the black money.The seriousness of the Government in prosecuting the guilty and bringing back the money was however, called into question by the bench. “Instead of giving you a handle, this court set up a SIT headed by a former SC judge. Can we say it was such a grave mistake that we have to modify our orders? What ends of justice recalling our order will serve? Since you failed, the court appointed a SIT. To serve the ends of justice, we should reject your application,” the court said.
The Court also questioned as why the government was so opposed to the SIT if it was performing its duties. “This is not a usual matter. Since 1947, nobody thought for 65 years to bring the money stashed in foreign banks to the country”, stated the bench. The court also upheld the SIT’s role, saying that it could approach the court if it ran into difficulties while negotiating with foreign governments.
After remaining on the back burner for more than a year, Wednesday’s hearing by the bench comprising of the three judges has bought the issue of Indian money stored in foreign tax havens illegally, back to the forefront of the national consciousness.