19.1.11

India's looted billions by the elite of India in government and the private sector

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SC pulls up govt on black money issue

Dhananjay Mahapatra of the Times of India.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday chided the government for restricting names of those with black money stashed abroad to Liechtenstein Bank account details disclosed by Germany.

It said the government was wrong in treating black money as a tax issue when it was simple and pure theft of the Indian economy. The court said information from banks in all countries was needed. ( Read: Ex-Swiss banker gives secret documents of super rich to WikiLeaks )

Criticizing the government for not making public all the names on the list, the apex court said plunder of the nation had taken place. ( Read: Indian names in Swiss bank disclosure to WikiLeaks )

"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," remarked a bench comprising justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar, while hearing a petition by former law minister Ram Jethmalani and others for retrieving Indian black money stashed in foreign banks.

The remark by the bench came when Solicitor general Gopal Subramanium was explaining various steps taken by the government under the Double Taxation Avoidance Act.

The court was unhappy that the government filed an affidavit restricting information relating to the money amounting to Rs 43 crore deposited by 26 persons in Liechtenstein Bank in Germany.

"This is all the information you have or you have something more?," the bench asked.

The apex court said since it was dealing with a serious issue in a public interest litigation, it would not hesitate to expand the scope of the petition.

Meanwhile the government said it was ready to share information with the Supreme Court but not make it public since it was in the process of getting more details of foreign accounts of Indians from other countries under the DTAA regime.

A Congress spokesperson said the government was doing everything possible to bring back the black money stashed abroad. ( Read: Declare names of Swiss bank account holders: BJP )

On Tuesday, senior BJP leader L K Advani referring to the issue had said he had great hope that the Supreme Court would act on the issue of black money stashed in foreign banks as people like Ram Jethmalani and K P S Gill have taken up the matter. ( Read: BJP, Congress spar over black money issue )

"Eminent people like Ram Jethmalani, Subash Kashyap and K P S Gill have approached the court on the issue. I have a great hope in the Supreme Court," Advani had said.

"An international organisation has said that more than Rs 20 lakh crore of Indian money is stashed is foreign banks. If it is brought back, it will satisfy infrastructure needs of the country," Advani said. ( Read: Black money trail: 'India drained off Rs 20 lakh crore during 1948-2008' )