It will take over all other probes that already under way

The Special Investigating Team on black money held its first meeting on Monday under the chairmanship of Justice M.B. Shah, a former judge of the Supreme Court.

The SIT members decided the road map and detailed modalities of proceeding further in accordance with the Supreme Court mandate, according to an official release. The Narendra Modi government had constituted the SIT to implement the decision of the apex court to probe large amounts of money stashed abroad by tax evaders. The ambit of the SIT also covers the funds generated through unlawful activities and salted away in overseas havens.

On Thursday, the Finance Ministry had notified the terms of reference of the SIT. The SIT will take over all other investigations that already under way and are pending or awaiting to be initiated, with respect to any other known instances of the stashing of unaccounted monies in foreign bank accounts by Indians or other entities operating in India, according to the notification.

Thursday’s notification does not specifically mention the SC’s directive that the SIT will take over the matter of investigation of the account holders in Liechtenstein banks whose names were disclosed by Germany and review the concluded matters also assess whether the investigations carried so far were “thoroughly and proper conducted or not, and on coming to the conclusion that there is a need for further investigation shall proceed further”.

On May 1, the Centre had reported to the apex court that investigations had been concluded against 18 of the 26 individuals that had bank accounts in Liechtenstein. It also said that these names were received from Germany and investigation had concluded in 17 cases of which against eight no evidence was found and the investigation had been concluded against them.

“Technically the terms of reference should have included reopening of these cases also to assess whether everything was properly done and if there is any need to proceed further… However, I hope the SIT in its wisdom will interpret its mandate broadly to cover these directions as well and make up for what probably is an omission due to oversight,” said RTI Activist Venkatesh Nayak in a statement on Sunday.

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