The Supreme Court will pass interim orders on Monday on the petitions filed by the former Union Law Minister, Ram Jethmalani, and others on the issue of black money allegedly stashed away by Indians in foreign banks, especially setting up a special investigation team to handle such cases.
On May 5, a Bench of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar reserved verdict on certain aspects of the petitions. The Bench is expected to give further directions to the Centre and pass orders on the demand that the government make public the names of those who kept black money in the Liechtenstein Bank, as such information is not covered by any treaty.
The Centre, which has constituted a high-level committee to monitor the progress of the case, has strongly opposed the demand for an SIT. It argued that the committee comprising senior officials could effectively conduct the investigation, and any outsider monitoring the probe could not be held accountable to the court — and such a mechanism had resulted in failure.
However, the petitioners argued that the high-level committee set up on April 22, being subservient to the political executive, could not be effective. They said the committee was constituted to pre-empt the court from issuing any directive, since the present Bench would break up after the summer vacation, with Mr. Justice Reddy retiring in the first week of July.
Pleading for an SIT, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, to monitor the investigation, the petitioners argued: “The nodal agency, in its present form, comprises senior bureaucrats of the highest level. While it is suited for coordination and exchange of information among different investigating agencies, its composition is such that it may not be viewed by the public as completely independent or immune from pressures of every kind. It is, therefore, not suitable for pursuing an investigation of this kind and taking it to the stage of prosecution, where there may be a nexus between the persons under investigation and powerful persons.”
Keywords: black money issue