New Delhi: The Centre on Friday declined
before the Supreme Court to make public names of the people
who have stashed black money in foreign banks, saying it is
not possible to disclose information received from foreign
governments under Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAT).
The Centre, however, agreed to reveal the names of
six persons who had deposited money with the Liechtenstein
Bank in Germany and who are being prosecuted by the government
Appearing before a bench headed by Justice B Sudershan
Reddy, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said that the
information received by the Centre from foreign banks and
foreign governments cannot be disclosed as it is not not
allowed under DTAA.
He also informed the court that the government has no
problem in making names public once judicial proceedings are
initiated against them for tax evasion.
"We have launched prosecution against some persons and
there is no difficulty in disclosing their names. But as far
as others are concerned their names cannot be disclosed
until the prosecution begins," he said.
The Court, however, was not satisfied and asked the
government to explain on the next date of hearing as to which
law bars it from making such information public.
The court was hearing a petition filed by noted lawyer
Ram Jethmalani seeking direction to the government to bring
back black money stashed by Indian citizens in the foreign
banks which, he said, amounted to around USD one trillion.
Besides Jethmalani, five others, including former
Punjab DGP K P S Gill and former Secretary General of Lok
Sabha Subhash Kashyap who are petitioners, have alleged that
the government was not taking action to bring the back black
money stashed in foreign banks.
NGO People`s Political Front and former top cop J F
Riberio are also among the petitioners.
The apex court had earlier expressed displeasure over
the government`s reluctance in disclosing the names of Indians
having black money in foreign banks.
"What is the difficulty in disclosing the information,"
the bench had asked, when Subramanium told the bench that the
government has got the details but did not want to reveal it.
The court`s remarks had came after the Government
contended that it has got the information from the German
government pertaining to the bank accounts of Indian citizens
in Liechtenstein Bank there.