The Centre on Friday declined before the Supreme Court to make public names of the people who have stashed black money in foreign banks, saying it is not possible to disclose information received from foreign governments under Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAT).
The Centre, however, agreed to reveal the names of six persons who had deposited money with the Liechtenstein Bank in Germany and who are being prosecuted by the government authorities.
Appearing before a bench headed by Justice B. Sudershan Reddy, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said that the information received by the Centre from foreign banks and foreign governments cannot be disclosed as it is not allowed under DTAA.
He also informed the court that the government has no problem in making names public once judicial proceedings are initiated against them for tax evasion.
“We have launched prosecution against some persons and there is no difficulty in disclosing their names. But as far as others are concerned their names cannot be disclosed until the prosecution begins,” he said.
The Court, however, was not satisfied and asked the government to explain on the next date of hearing as to which law bars it from making such information public.
The court was hearing a petition filed by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani seeking direction to the government to bring back black money stashed by Indian citizens in the foreign banks which, he said, amounted to around USD one trillion.
Besides Mr. 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 the government was not taking action to bring the back black money stashed in foreign banks.
NGO People’s Political Front and former top cop J.F. Riberio are also among the petitioners.
The apex court had earlier expressed displeasure over the government’s reluctance in disclosing the names of Indians having black money in foreign banks.
“What is the difficulty in disclosing the information,” the bench had asked, when Mr. Subramanium told the bench that the government has got the details but did not want to reveal it.
The court’s remarks had came after the Government contended that it has got the information from the German government pertaining to the bank accounts of Indian citizens in Liechtenstein Bank there.