NEW DELHI: It was not so long ago when Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised in an interview to the Navbharat Times , “we will bring back black money and give it to the honest”. But now his government has filed an application in the Supreme Court saying it cannot disclose details of the foreign accounts held by Indians as these are governed by bilateral double taxation avoidance treaties.
It was left to petitioner and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani to slam, in more laymans language, the Modi government for shielding those who were stashing black money abroad. Jethmalani accused the central government of shielding the corporates accused of laundering black money abroad.
The UPA government had blocked the move with the BJP at the time attacking it for protecting its own and promising the unearth the big nexus. However, the Modi government seems to have gone a step further by initiating legal cover for not sharing the names of those guilty of violating India’s fiscal laws. Jethmalani said that this was a continuation of the UPA regime’s policy. He said that some ministers in the present government were protecting themselves and their corporate friends stashing money in Swiss banks.
Jethmalani said that an application such as filed in the courts by the central government could “only be made by crooks who have illegally parked their ill-gotten money abroad and not by a democratically elected government”.
In a landmark order in 2011, the Supreme Court had said that all details of the alleged black money stashed abroad must be made public. The apex court said it will now hear the Centre’s application on October 28.
Jethmalani said such a plea could be made only by crooks who have illegally parked their ill-gotten money abroad and not by a democratically elected government.
The apex court agreed to hear Centre’s application on October 28.
Attorney general Mukul Rohatagi said the government cannot reveal names of those foreign account holders against whom no prosecution is launched.
The attorney general told the apex court court that revelation of names of Liechtenstein Bank account holders has been seriously objected to by the German government. The government is on the verge of signing important double taxation avoidance treaties with many countries, including USA in December, the attorney general added.
“If names of those not prosecuted are given out, then it will dry up the foreign government sources which provide the information about Indians stashing illegal money abroad,” Mukul Rohatagi said.
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Outside the court, Jethmalani took a strong critical view of the finance minister and attorney general for making such an application to the court and said it could help only the criminals.
Jethmalani told the court that he has written a letter to the Prime Minister on this issue conveying his strong views against the application and requesting the PM to take it as his last wishes.
The attorney general said Ram Jethmalani’s criticism of the finance minister was unwarranted and unfortunate