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Blackmoney: SC orders Centre to reveal all names today

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New Delhi: Rejecting the Centre’s stand, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Centre to disclose all the names of blackmoney holders abroad to it by Wednesday in a sealed envelope and slammed it for reluctance on the issue.
The Apex Court had some strong words for the new government for seeking modification of its earlier order on disclosure of all names saying this was accepted by the then UPA government.
“Why are you trying to protect people having bank accounts in foreign countries. Why are you providing a protective umbrella for all these people.
“The order was passed in open Court in the presence of Solicitor General and the new regime can’t ask modification of order. We cannot touch our order and we won’t change even a word of it,” a visibly annoyed Chief Justice H.L Dattu, who was heading the Bench, said.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s fervent plea that it can disclose names only after conducting probes on illegality of bank accounts was outright rejected by the Bench which asked the government not to do anything but provide all information to it and the Court would direct investigation to be done by SIT or any other agencies including CBI.
At the end of a 30-minute hearing, Attorney General said the government has received 500 names of account holders from different countries like Germany.
The CJI asked the Centre not to indulge in any kind of probe by itself and said that investigation would never complete in his lifetime if it is done by the government.
“You do not do anything. Just pass information of account holders to us and we will pass order for further probe,” the Bench, also comprising justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Madan B Lokur, said.
“We can’t leave the issue of bringing back black money to government. It will never happen during our time,” it said adding “Why are you providing protective umbrella to foreign bank account holders?”.
The Bench brushed aside the contentions of AG that disclosing account holders’ names would violate their right to privacy of those who have legitimate accounts and the names can be revealed only after a prima facie case of tax evasion is made out.
“You do not have to take interest in people (having foreign bank accounts). SIT will take care of it,” the Bench said setting a deadline for Wednesday to place all those names.
The Court directed the Centre not to give “one, two, or three names of account holders but the entire list supplied to it by the foreign countries”.
Meanwhile, the government will on Wednesday give the entire list of black money account holders to the Supreme Court, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said emphasising that no one will be protected.
The list will be given to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope, he said, but did not say if the government was open to making the list public.
“The government shall place the list before the Court because the government has already given (the list) to the Court constituted Special Investigating Team (on 27th June). The government is keen that by whatever procedure in accordance with law we must get to the root of the matter.
“…the government has no difficulty in placing the entire list and the same will be placed before the Court tomorrow,” Jaitley told reporters here.
Jaitley said the government was keen to punish all illicit foreign account holders and would do everything to bring back the black money.
“The truth about these names and also these accounts must come out so that penal action can be taken against the people and the money lying there can be brought back to India. “The government has no difficulty whatsoever with any agency investigating this matter because there is nobody the government wants to protect in this case so that those whose names have come must really be investigated and punished according to law,” he said. Jaitley said the government is also keen that the procedure followed must be such that the reciprocating countries continue to cooperate with India. (PTI)

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