NEW DELHI: Even as the government submitted the list of illegal account holders to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the public spat between the BJP and the Congress continued, with the latter daring the government to make the list public.
Alleging that BJP had “befooled” the public on the issue during the election campaign, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi also questioned the government as to why it was backing off from bringing the black money back to the country. Singhvi said the BJP had vowed to disclose “55,000 accounts” during the election campaign but “even `55 has not come in five months” after it came to power. The government has been putting forth the binding clauses of international treaties as a hindrance to bringing back the stashed money.
Apart from the names of Indians, who hold accounts in the HSBC, Geneva branch, there are accounts in tax haven Leistenstein which Germany had shared with India. The Congress on Wednesday pointed out that when the Supreme Court had earlier ruled that the Leistenstein accounts (of Indians) were not bound by any bilateral Double Taxation Avoidance treaty, the UPA Government had accepted the court ruling. But the present government, “despite its electoral promise”, had first appealed before the court to modify its earlier order to avoid disclosing the names of the Swiss bank account of HSBC, Geneva, in toto (as received), the Congress spokesperson alleged. Congress leader Manish Tewari said, “During the last five years, the BJP has been shouting that if they have the names, they will make it public and bring back the black money within 100 days and distribute it among the public.”
“So, they have to stand by their word. L K Advani had come up with an adjournment motion in 2011 on the issue of black money. Therefore, the government should immediately make all those names public.”
The Congress’ attack on the black money issue came even as the Centre submitted a list of 627 Indian account holders in HSBC bank, Geneva, before the Supreme Court, complying with its direction.
The BJP, meanwhile, insisted that that the Centre was sincere in its efforts to bring back the black money stashed abroad and was effectively working in that direction. BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the government is sensitive to the issue, is sincere in its actions and is working in the direction, effectively.
To a question on the government bowing to the SC order while disclosing names, he said, “It is not a question of bowing down. Our intention is to bring back the black money wherever it is parked in the world.”
“There is a legal process and the government is working strongly in this direction.” Naqvi said the government has been working in the direction right from day one with all sincerity, and entered into understanding with other countries and encouraged them to cooperate with the SIT.
“This resulted in disclosure of some things one after another. The government has respected whatever the court has said and whatever information it had, it has given it,” he said.
Germany incidentally has revealed the names of illegal account holders-- whose money is now being termed internationally as “red money” (meaning the source of which is unknown and which is not merely tax evaded stash). However, it is being clarified by the government’s legal team that “not all” Swiss bank “accounts or money therein may be black or red money”, some of them can be tax-paid or legal business accounts approved by the RBI, and hence requires investigations before all names are made public.