New Delhi: In a major development towards
bringing transparency in the probe into black money stashed in
Swiss banks, the Central Information Commission has directed
the Enforcement Directorate to make public an estimate of the
total amount of such money involved in its investigations.
Rejecting the contention of the Directorate that it has
been exempted from making disclosures under the RTI Act, the
Commission has held all such matters now investigated by the
Enforcement Directorate come within the definition of
allegations of corruption and, hence, should be disclosed.
"The Enforcement Directorate can let the country know as
to how much is the total sum of such money they are dealing
with in their current investigations. This figure can be
arrived at through the simple contrivance of aggregating the
sums of money in all such investigations currently underway,"
the Commission held in a recent order.
The Bench headed by the then Chief Information
Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah comprising of present CIC A N
Tiwari and Information Commissioners Shailesh Gandhi and M L
Sharma, however, exempted the Directorate from disclosing the
nature of such investigations and names of parties involved.
"While the Enforcement Directorate may take the position
that they have no way of assessing the total volume of
illegally held money by Indians in foreign banks, they can
surely provide an estimate of the total volume of such money
involved in the investigations they are presently conducting,"
the transparency panel said in its order.
In response to an RTI application filed by V Chandran,
the Directorate has taken a position that it could not confirm
or deny media reports about the likely volume of black money
stashed away in foreign banks by Indian nationals.
"This position is, doubtless, defensible, it leaves
unanswered the perennial question as to what resources the
country has lost to the evil of money laundering. We would
like this matter to be taken beyond technicalities and to
address the larger issue related to transparency in this vital
field, about which the citizens of our country are keen for
answers," the Commission said.