New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) why its investigation continued to focus only on Pune-based businessman Hasan Ali Khan and why the agency was not roping in the services of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
The court also flayed the government for not probing into specific sources of black money stashed in banks abroad and asked the Centre to apprise it of its investigation into the threat to national security posed by it.
“No further information is forthcoming from the agencies. It has stopped there. Only one individual is being held. What about the others?” asked the SC bench of justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S. S. Nijjar while perusing the RD’s status report submitted by solicitor general Gopal Subramanium in a sealed cover.
However, the solicitor general asked the court to wait for one more status report before implementing the move.
“This may prima facie require the involvement of IB, RAW and NIA,” observed the bench.
The case will be heard on Tuesday where ED is expected to update its status report.
The apex court also expressed its dismay that no name of any other person, except Hasan Ali Khan, involved in stashing funds abroad has come out.
The court also asked the ED whether the people under investigation have the privilege of privacy. The ED’s counsel said it was not really necessary. “Then let the people of this country know what is happening,” said the court.
After perusing the status report, the bench criticized the steps taken by the government in the investigation of the matter including that relating to the passport case against Khan.
“It is very difficult to be calm and quiet after seeing the status report,” the bench said.
“Why all these agencies were sleeping since 2008? Why it moved when we stepped in? If writ petition had not been filed, nothing would have happened,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a PIL, filed by former union law minister Ram Jethmalani, seeking retrieval of black money stashed by Indians in banks abroad.
The court reiterated its idea of setting up a special investigation team (SIT) comprising officers of IB, RAW, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and ED to probe the entire issue related to the black money.
The solicitor general said the investigation into the matter has revealed the involvement of a “power broker” in it and sought to assure the court that substantial progress has been made into the investigation of the case involving Khan. He said the case concerning Khan was not simply a case of forgery of passport but a case with far more serious implications.
Subramanium said the ED has taken serious note of Khan’s repeated statement seeking protection to his life and to his family members.
The law officer said there was a need for protection to all the officers investigating the case rather.
During the last hearing on 18 March too, the apex court had toyed with the idea of forming a SIT to probe the malady of Indian black money stashed in banks abroad and had asked the Centre to come up with its take on possible composition of the SIT.
“In principle, do you have any objection to setting up of SIT to look into the matter?” the bench had asked the government, while observing, “We are not talking about one case but many cases are involved in it. This is much wider.”
It had told the Centre and the petitioners to respond on the next date of hearing about its stand and the possible composition of the SIT.
PTI contributed to the story.