The Supreme Court on 22 April lashed out at the Union government for not providing it with the list of Indian account holders in Liechtenstein Bank, Germany. It is believed that several individuals from India are stashing their black money in the bank. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has vowed to bring back the black money of tax evading Indians from the foreign banks to utilise the same for welfare programmes.
On behalf of the government, the Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran told the apex court that the list of the account holders could not be disclosed as the government has not yet constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe into the matter.
A bench of the apex court, comprising Justices HL Dattu, Ranjana Desai and Madan Lokur told the Solicitor-General that it amounts to contempt of court as the government has not complied with the SC's directive on 4 July 2011.
"You have to give the documents and information received from Germany about the account holders in Liechtenstein Bank. Secondly, the investigation has to be taken over by the SIT," The Hindu quoted the Supreme Court bench.
"We take your statement that the names were not disclosed as the SIT could not be constituted with a pinch of salt. It is contempt of our directions," the bench said.
The SC bench said that its directions to the government on 4 July 2011 judgment were inter-connected and asked the government to disclose the list of account holders in the German bank.
"The judgment has to be read disjunctively and not conjunctively. We are not satisfied with the explanation of the SG," the SC bench said and refused to agree with Parasaran's explanation for the delay in submitting the list of the bank account holders.
As per Parasaran's explanation, Justice Jeevan Reddy was appointed as SIT chief, but he could not accomplish the task. Then Justice MB Shah had agreed to function as the SIT member. The names of the account holders could be provided to the court only after the SIT's constitution, Parasaran said.
"The constitution of the SIT has nothing to do with implementation of our directions which are very clear. You have to give the documents and information received from Germany about the account holders in Liechtenstein Bank. Secondly, the investigation has to be taken over by the SIT," the SC bench added.
Further the apex court directed the Solicitor General and counsel Anil Divan, advocating on behalf of the petitioner Ram Jethmalani, to decide who could head the SIT. The hearing on the matter has been postponed to 29 April.
In the next hearing, the government, through the Solicitor General, will reveal whether it could give out the details of Indian account holders of Liechtenstein Bank or not.
In another case, responding to a public interest litigation (PIL), the Supreme Court on 23 April constituted a three-member committee, headed by Prof NR Madhav Menon, founder of National Law University in Bangalore, to regulate government advertisements, highlighting ruling party politicians and the government schemes in this election season.
The PIL sought the apex court to issue guidelines to curb such ruling party leaders from taking political mileage out of government advertisements.