The Narendra Modi government, which promised to bring back black money stashed by Indians in foreign banks, Friday toed the line of UPA regime by informing the Supreme Court that it cannot disclose such details given by countries with which India has double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA).
In an application with annexures running into about 800 pages, the Centre contended that it cannot disclose all information as the foreign countries, with which India has double taxation avoidance agreement, have objected to making them public.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, BJP spearheaded by Narendra Modi had promised to bring back black money kept by Indians in overseas bank and slammed UPA government for not taking effective action and accusing it of shielding the corrupt. After assuming power in May, the Modi government had pledged to fulfil its pre-poll promise.
Expressing reservation on disclosing all information on account holders, the government said that the foreign countries may not give further information and it would also be difficult to get into DTAA with other nations.
Appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the issue saying that German government has raised objection on making public names of the Indian account holders in LGT Bank, Liechtenstein.
Accusing NDA government of trying to protect the culprits who stashed money in overseas banks, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani on whose plea the apex court had constituted Special Investigating Team (SIT) on black money, strongly objected to Centre’s stand and said that matter be not heard.
“Matter should not be entertained even for a day. Such application should have been made by the culprits and not by the government,” Jethmalani said, adding that Centre is trying to protect the people who have stashed black money in foreign banks.
Jethmalani, who claimed that around Rs 70 lakh crore was stashed in foreign banks, said that he has written a letter to Prime Minister on this issue and his response is awaited.
Interestingly, the apex court had earlier rejected the same stand taken by UPA government, observing that such DTAA does not prevent the Centre from disclosing the names of the persons having bank accounts in foreign banks.
It had said the treaty has been drafted in a “sloppy” manner, and cautioned the Centre not to enter into an agreement which undermines the Constitution.
The apex court after hearing AG’s contention posted the case for October 28.