The Supreme Court on Monday noted that the government was not focusing its probe into specific sources of black money stashed away in foreign banks and asked why there was no investigation into the national security angle so far.
A Bench of Justices B. Sudeershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar, after perusing the status report submitted by Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam in a sealed cover, asked the Centre why it was focusing on only one individual, Hasan Ali Khan, and not others. Mr. Subramaniam also submitted the statements of Hasan Ali recorded by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) during custodial interrogation.
Justice Reddy told the Solicitor-General, “No further information is coming out. Only one individual is there. What about others? It is very difficult to be calm and quiet after seeing the status report. Why were all these agencies sleeping since 2008? Why has it moved only after this court stepped in? If this writ petition had not been filed, nothing would have happened.”
The Bench was hearing a writ petition filed by the former Union Law Minister, Ram Jethmalani, alleging inaction by the government to retrieve the black money stashed away abroad in banks.
Justice Reddy told the Solicitor-General, “Why no question is asked about the sources of income. This is the first step in the investigation. What is coming in the way of going to the root of the matter? National security angle still remains unanswered.”
Pointing out the magnitude of the problem, Justice Reddy wanted the Centre to consider the setting up of a special investigation team comprising officers of the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Central Bureau of Investigation and the ED.
The Solicitor General said the investigation so far had yielded the desired results and “we are able to trace the trail of the income. It has revealed the involvement of a power broker also.” He alleged that there was a threat to the life of Hasan Ali as well as to the ED officers probing the case and wanted suitable orders from the court to ensure their safety. He said the case concerning Hasan Ali was not simply a case of forgery of passport but a case with far more serious implications.
The Solicitor-General submitted that a special investigation team might not be required at this stage. The court could consider this after the ED filed one more status report. Justice Reddy told Mr. Subramaniam: “You have claimed privilege about certain persons and said you cannot disclose their names. Why are things being kept secret? Let the people of this country know what is happening.” Mr. Subramaniam said he would address the court on these issues on the next date of hearing. Arguments will continue on Tuesday.