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SC seeks reply from govt on creating SIT on black money

In order to get to the core of the black money trail the Supreme Court on 18 March favoured setting up of a Special Investigation Team and in this regard sought a reply from the Centre. The Apex Court has also asked the ED to track others apart from Hasan Ali and also to consider the national security angle while probing the black money in a broader perspective.

A bench headed by Justice B Sudershan Reddy said the issue is not of any individual, it is even wider and that is why directed the government to consider setting up an SIT comprising officers from different departments including the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Income Tax (I-T). The court was hearing a petition filed by eminent criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani seeking direction to the government to take steps in bringing back money stashed by Indian nationals in foreign banks, which is said to be to the tune of $1 trillion. A bench of Justices B Sudershan Reddy and SS Nijjar rapped the Enforcement Directorate for concentrating only on Hasan Ali Khan. The bench said, “No further information is forthcoming from you. The whole concentration is focused only on one individual. What about others. We would like to know what progress you have made in each case. We would also like to know from you on next hearing the progress made in the investigation from the national security aspect and what is the source of such money which is a more serious aspect.” 

During interrogation Hasan Ali has revealed that of the total money in his Swiss bank and elsewhere a lion’s share belonged to top Indian politicians and bureaucrats, including three former chief ministers of Maharashtra. Hasan also confessed to investigators as to how he had siphoned money for former Maharashtra CMs through hawala into the stock market. His confession has come as a respite for the investigating agencies as the court acted tough on the tardy probe into Ali’s case. According to Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s report Hasan’s taxable income, according to the assessment made by Income Tax Authorities increased from Rs 528.9 crore in 2001-02 to Rs 5404.7 crore in 2002-03. Later on it touched Rs 54,268.6 crore in 2006-7. The CAG also said, “while computing his tax liability for the AYs (assessment year), the (IT) Department levied interest of Rs 706.1 crore instead of Rs 4,056 crore for default in furnishing returns and Rs 10,033.3 crore instead of Rs 9,756.9 crore for default in payment of advance tax.”

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 April 2011 on page no. 22

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