Black money: Whoever looted India will be caught and punished, assures SIT

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Black Money case
New Delhi, Oct 30: The Supreme Court-appointed SIT, looking into the black money cases, on Thursday said it will go after the offenders 'big or small' but made it clear that confidentiality about account holders abroad will not be violated.

It also said it was gathering more names other than the over 600 account holders in HSBC bank, Geneva, given by the government to Supreme Court on Wednesday, for investigation.

"Before us, nobody is big, nobody is small. Everybody is equal. Whoever has looted this country will be caught and will be punished, economically and otherwise also. That we assure. Both of us (SIT chief Justice Shah) are too well known for doing it to discomfort of many people," vice chairman justice Arijit Pasayat said.

Justice Shah said up till now they have decided a number of cases against the big personalities of the country. "We won't bother who is big. We will treat them equally with a poorest person of the country," he told television channels.

Both are retired judges of Supreme Court.

Amidst a raging debate over disclosure of names of foreign bank accounts holders that could threaten future cooperation with other countries, the SIT chairman said confidentiality agreement cannot be violated.

"Confidentiality is an international agreement. You cannot violate the agreement. If you violate it, further information would not be given by them and confirmation by other country is necessary. There is a proof that man is having that account. That proof you won't get it," he said.

Justice Shah said the investigation against people accused of stashing money abroad is going on at "very fast" pace and necessary action will be taken against them.

"It's difficult for me to say when we are going to get money back. But at least investigation is going on very fast and it would give some results," he said.

Justice Shah said the the pace of investigation is not slow. The department is required to follow procedures like issuing notices, hearing the person and thereafter the order can be passed.

"Even if the order is passed, party approaches the court and obtain a stay order. So in that set of circumstances, it is difficult to say that department is not moving fast. The department is moving fast. They (department and officials) have taken action also," he said.

Justice Shah said there will be more prosecution of people who have stashed blackmoney "within the reasonable time". The SIT is also sharing data with other agencies to help it in speeding up its probe, he said.

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi had on Wednesday submitted a list of 627 names having accounts in HSBC bank, Geneva. These names were earlier shared with the SIT also.

"At present we have 627 (names). Further apart from 627, there are other names which we are gathering also. (we) trying to gather it and it would be investigated and report would be exhaustive," the SIT chief said adding that the panel will go beyond these names.

Justice Pasayat said the SIT will seek "specific data" from people on blackmoney. "We are putting out an advertisement inviting people to give us specific data not any speculation," he said.

Justice Shah said the companies named in reports on illegal mining in few states will also be investigated.

"They (companies) are involved as such. They are (being) investigated and investigation would give result also within few months rather," said the SIT chief, who also probed illegal mining in Odisha, Jharkhand and Goa.

He said the SIT will meet the November-end deadline given by the Supreme Court of filing status report on 627 names shared by the government.

(With inputs from agencies)

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