Economy

Apex court wants black money probe to look at national security angle

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 17, 2017

The apex court also sought to know why the Government was not disclosing the names of persons with black money, adding that the citizens of the country need to know what is happening.



The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Government for concentrating solely on the businessman Mr Hasan Ali Khan in the black money case and instead asked it to look at the national security angle as well as unearth the source of such illegal wealth.

Wondering why the whole focus of the probe was only on one individual, the court asked, “What about others?”

“After reading the status report (submitted in a sealed cover by the Enforcement Directorate), it is difficult to remain calm and quiet…We would like to know from you the progress made in the investigation from the national security aspect and the source of such money which is the more serious aspect,” the court said.

The status report names people including a “power broker.” The court also sought to know why the Government was not disclosing the names of persons with black money, adding that the citizens of the country need to know what is happening.

The court in January had sought to know from the Government the exact sources of black money, and had asked if illegal wealth siphoned off from India to foreign banks was from arms dealing, smuggling and drug trafficking.

Earlier this month, the court had also sought to know from the authorities and investigating agencies whether charges of terrorism can be invoked against Mr Khan, as he is allegedly involved in illegal arms trade that also has national security implications. Mr Khan has been accused of tax evasion, money laundering and passport forgery.

BREAKTHROUGH IN PROBE

Meanwhile, the ED, represented by the Solicitor General, Mr Gopal Subramanium, claimed that the probe has achieved a “substantial breakthrough.” He also claimed that there was threat to the lives of Mr Khan and family as well as to those ED officials involved in the probe and added that there was a need to provide protection to them.

Mr Subramanium, however, did not disclose any names linked to the black money case and the ED probe. He added that the probe has revealed that it was not just a passport forgery case, but one with more serious ramifications.

However, the court asked, “Why all these agencies were sleeping since 2008?” and added that nothing had happened till it intervened. The court once again sought the Government's view on constituting a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising officers of the CBI, ED, Research and Analysis Wing and Intelligence Bureau to carry out the probe on black money.

Mr Subramanium expressed some reservations on setting up an SIT but added that the probe is making substantial progress and sought time to submit another status report. Meanwhile, Mr Khan's counsel Mr U. U. Lalit claimed that his client was being made a scapegoat. The case will be heard again on Tuesday.

The petitioner, noted jurist Mr Ram Jethmalani, wanted directions from the court to the Government to retrieve black money stashed in foreign banks which, he claimed, were over $1 trillion.

Published on March 28, 2011

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