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Black money abroad: SC calls it theft; blasts govt

Last updated on: January 19, 2011 13:54 IST

Black money abroad: SC calls it theft; blasts govt

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the government's reluctance in coming forward with full information on the black money stashed by Indians in foreign banks, saying it as a theft of national wealth and amounted to 'plunder' of the nation.

"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.

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Photographs: Reuters
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The court was unhappy that the government filed an affidavit restricting information relating to the money deposited by 26 persons in Liechtenstein Bank in Germany.

"This is all the information you have or you have something more?" the bench asked. "We are talking about the huge money. That is the plunder of nation," the bench remarked.

The government on Tuesday had said that it is at an 'advanced stage' of inking Tax Information Exchange Treaties with some countries, a move that will help speed up its efforts to trace black money stashed in foreign banks and help check tax evasion.

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Photographs: Reuters
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India is inking these treaties with the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Syria, China, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, South Korea and Vietnam.

On January 14 too, the Supreme Court had questioned the government as to why it was reluctant in disclosing the names of Indian nationals who have allegedly stashed black money in foreign banks.

"What is the difficulty in disclosing the information," the bench asked when Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium informed the bench that government has got the details but did not want to reveal it.

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Photographs: Reuters
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The court's remarks came after the government contended that it has got the information from the German government pertaining to the bank accounts of Indian citizens in Liechtenstein Bank there.

The court said it would like persons, including Pune-based businessman Hassan Ali Khan (who is being probed by the enforcement directorate in connection with alleged black money stashed in foreign banks), to be impleaded as a party to the petition.

"If the names of the account holders are before us then why not implead them in the case. Let them come," the court.


Photographs: Reuters
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