New Delhi, Jan 19 (PTI) The Supreme Court today pulledup the Government for witholding information on blackmoneystashed in foreign banks, saying it is not just limited to taxevasion but a "mind boggling crime" amounting to "theft" and"plunder" of national wealth having security ramifications.
"It is a pure and simple theft of the national money.
We are talking about mind-boggling crime. We are not on theniceties of various treaties," a bench comprising justices BSudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar said when the Centre contendedthat it was case of tax evasion and it cannot make public thenames of Indian account holders.
The court made it clear that it was not happy withGovernment''s approach on the issue. "This is the problem whichis worrying us. It is not only about tax evasion and hassomething more," the bench said after it was pointed out thatthe source of these money might be narcotics, terror fund orarms dealing.
It was contended before the Court that even the formerNational Security Advisor M K Narayanan had expressedapprehension that the money stashed in tax havens abroad mighthave some terror linkage.
The court was hearing a petition filed by notedcriminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who along with some retiredbureaucrats and police officers, approached it seekingdirections to the government to take steps to bring blackmoneyto the tune of one trillion dollars stashed in foreign bankback to the country.
The bench was not impressed with the submission ofSolicitor general Gopal Subramanium who was explaining varioussteps taken by the government under the Double TaxationAvoidance Act and other treaties with various countriesincluding Germany and Switzerland.
It also disapproved of government filing anaffidavit restricting information relating to the moneydeposited by 26 persons in Liechtenstein Bank in Germany.
"This is all the information you have or you havesomething more?," the bench repeatedly asked Subramanium.
"We are talking about the huge money. That is theplunder of nation," the bench remarked as the SG said he wasnot in a position to disclose more than what has been said inthe affidavit.
The bench also expressed anguish over the fact thatthe affidavit filed in a sealed cover and referring to 26names, had been signed by a mere director-level officer andsaid it should have been signed by the finance secretaryhimself.
"Why not the Finance Secretary responded," the benchsaid adding "it reflects the seriousness of the government".
"We thought one person who must have been authorisedto file the affidavit should have been the Finance Secretaryconsidering the seriousness of the matter," said the bench.
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