New Delhi: Pulling up the Centre over its tardy pace in dealing with the “colossal” problem of black money, the Supreme Court on Wednesday wanted a former judge to monitor action of government agencies on the issue but this was resisted by the government.
“We do not visualize the problem going away in months. Look at the dimension of the problem. It is colossal and the biggest problem of the country after independence,” a bench of justices B. Sudarshan Reddy and S. S. Nijjar said while reserving its order on constituting special investigation team (SIT) to deal with the issue.
During the hearing, the Centre vehemently opposed the idea of setting up of SIT or appointment of retired apex court judge to monitor the functioning of a 10-member high power committee of top officers from CBI, ED (Enforcement Directorate),IB (Intelligence Bureau) and other departments, to deal with the black money cases.
“It is not in the public interest to appoint the SIT as it would hamper the ongoing investigation in the case. I have objection on the issue. They (government agencies) do not need any interventionist to be fast and speedy in dealing with the problem,” solicitor general Gopal Subramainum said.
The bench, however, pointed out that agencies approach has so far been tardy as nothing substantial has been done so far in such cases.
“Where is the speed in the case. Case was registered against an individual in 2007 but the custodial interrogation was done only in 2011 after the court’s intervention. What speed you are talking about. We don’t want to make comments on this. Even letters rogatory (LR) was issued after constant query from the court,” the bench observed.
“I find it difficult to understand what is wrong if some eminent retired judge of this court will monitor the work of the committee. It can only enhance efficiency of the team,” the bench further said while reserving its order on a plea seeking directions to the government to make public the names of persons who have kept black money in the Liechtenstein Bank.
Subramainum informed the court that the 10-member committee consisting of revenue secretary, RBI’s deputy director, directors of CBI, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Enforcement Directorate, chairman of CBDT, director general of revenue intelligence, chief of Narcotics Control, director of foreign intelligence office (FIO) and joint secretary of foreign trade has already been appointed.
The court was hearing a petition filed by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani and some former bureaucrats seeking the its direction to the government to bring back black money stashed by Indian nationals in foreign banks, which is said to be to the tune of $1 trillion.