Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India.Reuters

The Union government has created a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the issue of black money stashed abroad. Former Supreme Court judge Justice MB Shah has been appointed as the Chairman of the team and he has now promised to complete the probe as soon as possible.

Shah will be assisted by another retired Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat as vice-chairman of the SIT.

Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, which took over on 26 May and held its first Cabinet meeting the next day, stated that the SIT has been formed under the chairmanship of Shah. Last week, the apex court had granted just one week's time to the government to set up the SIT on black money probing.

The SIT on black money has been constituted with high-profile officials such as RBI Deputy Governor, CBDT Chairman, Revenue Secretary, CBI director.

Shah on 28 May revealed his past probes into illegal mining in states like Goa and Odisha. He explained how speedily the process had been completed and also hoped that this probe too will be completed soon, despite some "complexities" involved in the assignment.

The Supreme Court had been insisting on the government setting up the SIT for quite some time. The apex court is of the view that if the Indian black money deposited in foreign banks by a few individuals is brought to the country, people's per capita income would go up and the income tax rate would come down considerably.

Shah made it clear that he would be very firm in the probe, while dealing with political leaders and corporate heads, assumed to be involved in stashing away black money in foreign banks.

"I have worked for many years as a judge -- 15 years as a high court judge and then five years as a Supreme Court judge. I have never bothered about personalities and nobody has dared to touch me. It is as good as that. Do not worry about it," PTI quoted him.

During the probe on illegal mining of iron ore in Odisha and Goa, he submitted the first interim report within two months and the final reports on the mining were submitted to the government within six-months.

In the last few months, the Supreme Court has pulled up the Congress-headed government at the Centre for its failure to bring back black money supposedly stashed in foreign banks.

Former law minister and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani had filed a writ petition in the SC, acting upon which, the apex court had ordered the SIT probe into the black money issue in July 2011.