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SIT in black money can`t act as superpower: Centre

The Centre told the Supreme Court that the SIT appointed by it to probe and unearth the black money stashed abroad needs to be scrapped as the investigating agency cannot function like a "super power."



New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the SIT appointed by it to probe and unearth the
black money stashed abroad needs to be scrapped as the
investigating agency cannot function like a "super power."

Attorney General G E Vahanvati making a plea for recall
of the apex court`s July 4 order on the SIT said the
Government had "very serious" reservations on the directions
which had also cast aspersions on sincerity of the Government
in tackling the black money menace.

"It (SIT) can`t act as a super power or you forget
Parliament. If the SIT has to function it needs funds. But it
is finally Parliament which has to approve it," Vahanvati told
a bench of justices Altamas Kabir and S S Nijjar.

He alleged that the earlier bench headed by Justice B
Sudershan Reddy(since retd) of which Justice Nijjar was a
member had passed an erroneous judgement in which it was
commented that the Government was weak, soft and hand-in-glove
with mafia elements.

"We had passed the orders after going through the
proceedings. The team is the same except the two judges," the
bench remarked pointing out that the SIT was initially
constituted by the Centre and the apex court had merely
incorporated the names of retired SC judges justices B P
Jeevan Reddy and M B Shah.

The Attorney General argued that the wide powers
conferred on the SIT has "dislodged every authority under the
various Acts like FEMA, Income Tax, Prevention of Money
Laundering Act.

"How can the Deputy Governor of RBI, the Director of RAW
become an investigator? Director of the RAW, many people
even do not know his name. He is a faceless person how can he
be brought to investigate?" Vahanvati asked.

However, senior counsel Anil Divan appearing for the
petitioners Ram Jethmalani and others said there was nothing
wrong in the setting up of the SIT as the apex court had done
in a number of earlier cases like the Bandhuva Mukti Morcha
and the post-Godhra Gujarat riots. The arguments would resume
tomorrow.

The Centre has in its application for recall of the July
4 order contended the SIT was formed without being prayed for
and has questioned remarks of the apex court that
investigations into the issue of black money stashed abroad
was at a "laggardly pace".

Maintaining that the earlier bench had impinged upon the
domain entrusted to the executive, the Centre said the order
is "contrary to the settled legal principle that the function
of the court is to see that the lawful authority is duly
exercised by the executive but not to take over itself the
task entrusted to the executive."

"It impinges upon the well-settled principle that courts
do not interfere with the economic policy which is the domain
of the executive and that it is not the function of the court
to sit in judgement over matters of economic policy, which
must necessarily be left to expert bodies," it has said.

The government in its application raised objections to
the remarks made by the apex court criticising it in black
money cases while appointing former judges - Justices B P
Jeevan Reddy and M B Shah - as chairman and vice-chairman of
SIT.

The bench had in its order said monies generated and
stashed away reveal the degree of "softness of the State".

Listing worries arising out of unaccounted monies
stashed in foreign banks, the bench had said "the quantum of
such monies may be rough indicators of the weakness of the
State, in terms of both crime prevention, and also of tax
collection".

Raising its objection to the order, the government
argued courts are neither concerned with the judicial review
of the economic policy nor it was required for them to
substitute their views on matters which falls within the ambit
of the executive.

"That the judicial review is not concerned with the
matters of economic policy as the courts do not substitute
their views and judgement for that of the executive as regards
the matters which fall within the domain/province of the
executive. It is respectfully submitted that the courts do not
supplant the views of experts by its own views," the Centre`s
application said.

While assailing the order for setting up of the SIT and
making adverse remarks, the government contended the direction
will eliminate and denude the constitutional responsibility of
the executive.

PTI

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