Rejects Govt’s plea against setting up a Special Investigation Team to probe cases

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the Centre’s plea to recall its order to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe cases of black money, saying it had stepped in as for over six decades “the Government failed to bring back the money stashed in foreign banks”.

“The SIT will do things which this country is dreaming of,” a three-judge Bench headed by Justice HL Dattu observed while dismissing the Centre’s plea and pulling it up for its reluctance to accept the SIT headed by two retired judges of the apex court.

The apex court said its two-judge Bench, in its July 4, 2011 order to set up an SIT, felt that “no effort was made to bring back the money stashed in foreign banks” which could have been accounted and pumped into the “mainstream of the Indian economy”. The order was passed on a PIL filed in 2009 by noted jurist Ram Jethmalani and others who had claimed that ₹70 lakh crore of black money was stashed in foreign tax havens.

“It was the feeling of this court that no effort was made to bring back the money stashed in foreign banks and no effort was made to disclose the names of those whose money was in the foreign banks.

“If the money would have been brought back the economy of the country would have gone up. Per capita income would have gone up. The income tax rate which we are paying — at 30 per cent — would have been reduced,” the Bench, also comprising justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Madan B Lokur, observed.

The Bench brushed aside the contention of Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran that “the mechanism was already in place” to deal with the issue of black money and expressed its anguish that the Centre was “literally” running away from the SIT-monitored probe.

“Since 1947, nobody thought for 65 years to bring the money stashed in foreign banks to the country. Government has failed in its role for 65 years. We are not impressed by your statement. If you had undertaken the exercise… we would have not stepped in,” the Bench said.

(This article was published on March 26, 2014)
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