The SC on Black Money

The Supreme Court took a tough position against the Union government on Wednesday, asking it why it was not disclosing the names of Indian citizens who allegedly stashed away large sums of unaccounted money in European banks from 2002 to 2006. The government has refused to make the names of such account holders public citing confidentiality obligations under international tax treaties.
Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar of the apex court refuted the government's claim and said it was restricting the scope of the case by arguing that it was only a taxation issue.
“It is a pure and simple theft of the national money. We are not on the niceties of various treaties,“ the apex court bench told the government counsel when the government contended it was a case of tax evasion and that it cannot make public the names of Indians with foreign bank accounts. Solicitor-general Gopal Subramanium said the government knew the names of 26 account holders in Liechtenstein's LGT Bank.
“This is all the information you have or you have something more?“ asked the bench.
The government has sought more time from the court and said it would respond at the next hearing on Thursday. It submitted that it would recover any monies stashed away in foreign accounts. The court is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on black money being held in European banks by Indians, initiated by senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani along with some former civil servants, who want the court to examine the issue as well as the falling standards of administration on the part of the government.
The PIL claims this is a “colossal failure to enforce the law“ due to influential politicians in various parties being involved in the offences.
The apex court also took issue with the government's affidavit being filed by Priya V. K.Singh, a director in the finance ministry's department of revenue, although she said she was familiar with the facts.
The court said the finance secretary, a higher ranking official, should have been the one to respond on the part of the government given the “seriousness of the matter“.

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