NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the Centre for showing reluctance in disclosing names of black money account holders abroad to it and directed the government to submit the full list in a sealed envelope on Wednesday.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said, “Why are you (government) trying to protect people having bank accounts in foreign countries. Why are you providing a protective umbrella for all these people.”
The Bench refused to pass any order on the Centre’s plea seeking modification of its earlier order in which it had directed that names of all account holders having money abroad should be disclosed and said, “The order was passed in open court in the presence of the Solicitor General and the new regime can’t ask modification of order. We can’t touch our order and we won’t change even a word of it.” Commenting on the court’s direction, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assured that names of all black money account holders with the government will be given to the Supreme Court.
“The government has no intention to protect anybody in the probe. We have already given a list of names to the Special Investigation Team on black money on June 27,” Jaitley said.
The Bench paid no heed to Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s plea that it can disclose names only after conducting a probe on illegality of the bank accounts.
Rejecting the AG’s contention, the bench asked the government not to do anything but provide all information to it and that it will direct investigation to be done by the SIT or any other agencies, including the CBI.
The Attorney General informed the court that the government has received 500 names of account holders from different countries like Germany.
On this, CJI Dattu said, “You do not do anything. Just pass information of account holders to us and we will pass order for further probe. We can’t leave the issue of bringing back black money to the government. It will never happen during our time.” The court also refused to hear the government’s contention that disclosing the names would violate the 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 while asking the Centre not to give one, two, or three names of account holders but the complete list supplied to it by foreign countries. “We want the names supplied to you by foreign countries. You give the information to us. We have taken up the case and are monitoring it. So give us the information and we would pass it to the SIT. The SIT would take the case to its logical conclusion.”
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