"We have noted Supreme Court's observation; all necessary action will be taken"

The Union government will abide by the Supreme Court's directive and act against the Pune-based stud farm owner, Hasan Ali Khan, from whom the Income Tax Department has allegedly recovered ill-gotten money, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday.

Responding to questions from journalists, Mr. Mukherjee said: “That is being taken care of. We have noted the observations of the Supreme Court. All necessary action will be taken.”

On Thursday, the Supreme Court expressed its displeasure at the government's lack of “will power” to act against black-money hoarders and pulled it up for not subjecting Mr. Khan and others to custodial interrogation, despite being in possession of sufficient evidence.

Last week, Mr. Mukherjee assured Parliament that income tax officials had completed tax assessment investigations and were about to prosecute Mr. Khan for amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income. However, he said the process of law had to be complied with.

He also assured the members that Mr. Khan had not fled the country and the government would prevent his doing so. On Friday, the Enforcement Department issued a Lookout Circular at all airports against Mr. Khan.

Accused of stashing away black money in Swiss banks, Mr. Khan was served with a notice asking him to pay up Rs. 40,000 crore in 2009.

Earlier addressing industrialists at a function organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Mr. Mukherjee assured them that the government would give a boost to cold storage facilities, allow them to have captive power plants and take a call on decontrol of sugar. The Finance Ministry, he said, awaited a comprehensive paper on sugar the Agriculture Department was preparing.

Promising to work towards increasing agricultural productivity, he said the Agriculture Minister was seized of research and other issues to achieve the desired results.

Mr. Mukherjee said a meeting of Chief Ministers would be convened soon to consider the recommendation of the sub-group for amending the Agriculture Produce Marketing Act. As for demand-weighted deductions to give education a boost, he could not make a commitment outside Parliament, but promised to incorporate some into the Finance Bill.

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