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Black money issue: SC to hear plea on July 28

Last updated on: May 04, 2009 12:53 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday posted for July 28 the hearing on the petition accusing government of inaction in bringing back black money stashed in foreign banks.

Without issuing notice to the government, a bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan allowed the petitioners Ram Jethmalani, senior advocate, and five others to file a comprehensive rejoinder to the affidavit filed by the Centre on May two on the issue.

The bench also said that the Centre can also respond to the written submissions filed today by the petitioners, raising objections against the delay in filing of the affidavit in which it alleged that the petitioners had links with the BJP.

The petitioners accused the government of not honouring the April 22 promise of filing the affidavit within 48 hours. They said that the assurance to file the affidavit within 48 hours was given to avoid issuance of notice.

They said that in the affidavit the government had used the word "alleged deposits" which is directly contrary to everyone's perception and knowledge including that of the prime minister.

Senior advocate Anil Diwan, appearing for the petitioners alleged that the affidavit filed by the government has not dealt with the facts that there was a fake passport case against Pune-based businessman Hasan Ali Khan and investigations relating to money laundering were also being undertaken against him, and that he was involved in transactions with Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.

Pointing out various inactions against Khan who allegedly has stashed money in a Swiss Bank, the petitioners in written submissions said, "Is it not unreasonable to infer that the government is interested in protecting powerful individuals, who may be using Khan and his wife as their nominee/benamidar".

Further, Diwan said, "The most important factor is that not even a single individual has been apprehended/interrogated by the government in the last five years in relation to money laundering and slush funds from illicit funds, parked abroad."
Besides Jethmalani, five others including former Punjab DGP K P S Gill and former Secretary General of Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap, who are petitioners, have alleged that government was not taking action on the issue.

The PIL assumes importance as BJP's prime ministerial candidate L K Advani besides Left parties and others have been pressing the government to approach the foreign banks for bringing back the black money.

The petition sought a direction to the Centre to take up with the foreign banks, particularly the UBS Bank, Switzerland, the issue of freezing of accounts of Indian businessmen, politicians and other influential persons illegally holding their assets in such financial institutions.

The six petitioners, whom their counsel Diwan described as "super senior" citizens, had submitted that if the Rs 70 lakh crore, purportedly stashed in foreign banks, are retrieved it would substantially remove poverty in the country and promote its development.

In the 29-page affidavit, the government had said 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 the affidavit, said German government made available the information after persistent follow up since February 2008 "on condition of strict confidentiality of contents under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)."

It had 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 had said government has acted with utmost expedition.

The government had said that the PIL filed by former Law Minister and noted jurist Jethmalani and five others, accusing it of inaction was a "wild, reckless and baseless allegation".

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