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Black money case: Govt has confidential information

Last updated on: May 02, 2009 20:13 IST
The government on Saturday submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court on the issue of blackmoney stashed in foreign banks stating it has received information about Indian account holders in a German Bank but did not reveal the names on grounds of "confidentiality."

The Ministry of Finance in a 29-page affidavit said German government made the available the information after persistent follow up since February 2008 "on condition of strict confidentiality of contents under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement."

It said the German government provided the information on March 18 this year about the Indian account holders in the LGT Bank, Liechtenstein. On the issue of deposits in banks in Switzerland, the affidavit said the government has acted with utmost expedition.

The affidavit said that in the past, Swiss authority has consistently refused to share bank information regarding Indian residents but developments have taken place since Swiss confederation has intended to adopt the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development standards and enter into negotiations for exchange of information on bank details.

"Government of India has already approached the Swiss government seeking renegotiation of Article concerning exchange of information in DTAA with them," the affidavit said.

The government said that the PIL filed by former Law Minister and noted jurist Ram Jethmalani and five others accusing the United Progressive Alliance government of inaction in bringing back the black money stashed in foreign banks was a "wild, reckless and baseless allegation".

The PIL came close on the heels of Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate L K Advani as also the Left parties pressing the government to approach the foreign banks for bringing back the black money.

However, the government questioned the timing of filing the PIL, particularly at this juncture when the general elections are underway. It contended that the article in a magazine which was relied upon for levelling the allegations was written by a person, who was a member of the Task Force constituted by the BJP and included S.Gurumurthy and party's Lok Sabha candidate from Mumbai North-Central, Mahesh Jethmalani.

Government claimed that many citizens sought information on steps taken with the German authorities on the issue under the Right To Information Act but Jethamalani and other petitioners including former Punjab DGP K P S Gill and Subhash Kashyap, former secretary general of Lok Sabha, did not take recourse to the information act.

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