SC flays govt for not probing black money source

The SC flayed the govt for focussing its probe only around Hasan Ali Khan in the black money case and directed it to track the more `serious` aspect of source of money by incorporating the angle of national security.

Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 18:42 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday flayed
the government for focussing its probe only around Pune stud
owner Hasan Ali Khan in the black money case and directed it
to track the more "serious" aspect of source of money by
incorporating the angle of national security.

"No further information is forthcoming from you. The
whole concentration is focussed only on one individual. What
about others?", a bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy and SS
Nijjar asked.

"We would like to know what progress has been made by
you in each case (relating to black money). We would also like
to know from you on next hearing the progress made in the
investigation from the national security aspect and what is
the source of such money which is more serious aspect," it
said.

The bench, which perused the 14-page status report
(submitted in a sealed cover) on the probe by the Enforcement
Directorate, expressed shock over the revelation made in the
report in which the name of a "power broker" was mentioned.

"It is very difficult to be calm and quiet after
seeing the status report," the judges remarked.

The government, which has been facing a tough time in
the apex court on the issue of black money, said there has
been "substantial breakthrough" in the investigation.

It expressed concern over the security threat being
faced by the investigators by telling the bench that there was
a need for providing protection to all the officers of the
Enforcement Directorate involved in the case.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said he cannot
disclose the names of officers involved in the probe. He said
the government has also taken seriously the statements of
53-year-old Khan who has expressed threat to his life and his
family members.

He said the probe into the case of Khan has revealed
that it was not simply a case of forgery of passport but a
case with far more serious implications.

"This is not simply a forgery of passport. It is a
case with far more implications. Why did the passport
disappear," Subramanaium said while replying in the
affirmative that another person, a Kolkata-based businessman
Kashinath Taporia, who was associated with Khan, has been
arrested.

"Why all these agencies were sleeping since 2008? Why
it moved when we stepped in? If writ petition had not been
filed, nothing would have happened," the bench observed after
the Solicitor General made submissions in the case lodged
against Khan in 2008.

Besides the ED probe, Khan is also facing a nearly Rs
70,000 crore tax demand notice from the Income-Tax Department.

The bench also wanted to know why the government was
claiming privilege and not favouring to disclose the names of
the persons which have surfaced during the course of the
probe.

"Tell us why are you are claiming privilege. Why not
they (names of people) be disclosed. Let the people of the
country know what is happening. Now there is no privilege on
one name (Hasan Ali Khan). People have come to know
everything," the bench said.

Khan`s counsel and senior advocate UU Lalit said, "He
(Khan) has been made a scapegoat".

The court reiterated its idea of setting up a Special
Investigation Team (SIT) comprising officers of the
Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Central
Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate to probe
the entire issue related to the black money stashed away in
banks abroad.

However, the Solicitor General said it would be too
early to consider setting up of an SIT and sought one more
chance to satisfy the court about the progress of
investigation.

"At this juncture wait for another status report. Look
at another status report and see what area can be bifurcated
among different agencies," he told the bench which accepted
his plea.

Subramanium said in probing the issue of black money,
the sole consideration is the public interest and impending
aspect of national security.

The court was hearing a PIL seeking retrieval of black
money stashed away by Indian citizens in banks abroad. The PIL
had been filed by former Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani.

During the last hearing on March 18 too, the apex
court had toyed with the idea of forming an SIT to probe the
malady of Indian black money in foreign banks and had asked
the Centre to come up with its take on possible composition of
such a team.

"In principle, do you have any objection to setting up
of an SIT to look into the matter?" the bench had asked the
government, while observing, "We are not talking about one
case but many cases are involved in it. This is much wider."

PTI