Black money: Centre files affidavit in SC
New Delhi: Buckling under Opposition pressure, the Centre on Wednesday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in connection with the illegal money stashed in foreign banks by Indian nationals.
The Centre’s affidavit was filed a day ahead of the Supreme Court hearing in the case scheduled for tomorrow.
The development came days after a news magazine revealed the names of as many as 15 tax evaders – 12 individuals and three foundations - who figure in the list of 26 persons believed to be holding secret accounts in the tax haven of Lichetenstein.
The list of major tax evaders was prepared by the German government and handed over to the Indian government in March 2009. However, the Centre had so far refused to disclose the names on the ground that the list was given to it by the German government on confidential terms.
The list released by the Tehelka news magazine contains the names of 12 individuals and three foundations without their address and the business they are involved in, as also the amounts they have allegedly stashed in these accounts.
The names of those who have stashed black money abroad include:
1. Manoj Dhupelia; 2. Rupal Dhupelia; 3. Mohan Dhupelia; 4. Hasmukh Gandhi; 5. Chintan Gandhi; 6. Dilip Mehta; 7. Arun Mehta; 8. Arun Kochar; 9. Gunwanti Mehta; 10. Rajnikant Mehta; 11. Prabodh Mehta; 12. Ashok Jaipuria; 13. Raj Foundation; 14. Urvashi Foundation; 15. Ambrunova Trust
The Supreme Court had last month pulled up the government for withholding information on black money stashed in foreign banks, saying it is not just limited to tax evasion but a "mind boggling crime" amounting to "theft" and "plunder" of national wealth having security ramifications.
"It is a pure and simple theft of the national money. We are talking about mind-boggling crime. We are not on the niceties of various treaties," a bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and SS Nijjar said when the Centre contended that it was a case of tax evasion and it cannot make public the names of Indian account holders.
The court made it clear that it was not happy with government's approach on the issue. "This is the problem which is worrying us. It is not only about tax evasion and has something more," the bench said after it was pointed out that the source of this money might be narcotics, terror fund or arms dealing.
It was contended before the Court that even former National Security Advisor MK Narayanan had expressed apprehension that the money stashed in tax havens abroad might have some terror linkage.
The court was hearing a petition filed by noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who along with some retired bureaucrats and police officers, approached it seeking directions to the government to take steps to bring black money to the tune of one trillion dollars stashed in foreign bank back to the country.
The bench was not impressed with the submission of Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium who was explaining various steps taken by the government under the Double Taxation Avoidance Act and other treaties with various countries including Germany and Switzerland.