NEW DELHI: A day after the Centre told the Supreme Court that it can’t yet disclose the names of people, who have allegedly stashed their ill-gotten money in tax havens abroad, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the stand was in keeping with the due process of law.
“The NDA Government’s approach on black money is doggedly persistent and not adventurist,” Jaitley wrote in an article on a social media site. “I am surprised by some of the headlines in some newspapers, which state that the NDA Government has made a U-turn on the issue of black money stacked up in Swiss bank accounts. Nothing can be farther from the truth,” he said. Jaitley made it clear that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government would not withhold any information, including names of account holders. He said they would be revealed after following the due process of completing the probe and reaching conclusions.
“Any premature and out-of-court disclosure of the names of account holders would not only vitiate the investigations, but will enable such account holders to get away with their offences. It will also violate India’s double taxation avoidance agreements (DTAA) with other countries and will choke receipt of all further information from those countries,” he said.
Jaitley said his government was committed to detect the names, prosecute the guilty and making them public, but it could not be pushed into adventurism and violate the treaties.
Accusing the NDA Government of misleading the public on the issue of black money, the Congress on Saturday rejected Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s charge that the confidentiality clause in a treaty signed with Germany by the Congress Government in 1995 has kept the government’s hands tied on the issue.
Countering the accusation, AICC Communication Department chairman Ajay Maken said 14 DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement), having the same confidentiality clause, were signed during the earlier NDA regime of which three were amendments, but there was no effort made to revisit the issue.
“Why didn’t the BJP Government think of removing the clause when you signed the agreements?” Maken asked while casting doubts over Jaitley’s claim that the DTAA between India and Germany was signed on June 19, 1995 when Congress party was in power.
Showing a snapshot of Finance Department’s website, he said it shows that the said agreement was signed and notified in September and November 1996, when the Congress was not in power.
Anna Writes to PM
Meanwhile, veteran social activist Anna Hazare has threatened to launch an agitation if the Centre took no step to bring back the black money stashed abroad.
Hazare on Saturday shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to draw his attention towards the issue. He reminded Modi of his poll promise about bringing back the black money.