New Delhi, Aug 20 IANS | 3 months ago

The Supreme Court Wednesday said the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was set up to probe the unaccounted money stashed away in tax havens and foreign banks has made some progress in that direction.

The apex court bench of Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Madan B. Lokur made this observation as it perused the interim report submitted to it by the Joint Secretary (Revenue) in a sealed cover.

"The report is confidential. We can only say some progress has been made", Justice Dattu said as court asked the SIT to proceed with the task before them as it directed the next hearing of the matter on November 11, 2014.

"We request the SIT members to proceed with the task before them," the court said in its order.

The court also allowed petitioner Ram Jethmalani and his counsel Anil Divan to interact with the members of the SIT on the manner and means of getting black money from the banks located abroad.

"They can suggest means and method (of getting the money stashed offshore) and nothing beyond it," the court ordered on a plea by Jethmalani as he sought the court's nod to interact with the SIT members. Initially, the court said petitioner Jethmalani and his counsel needed no permission of the court to interact with the members of the SIT.

The court also asked Additional Solicitor General Neeraj Kishan Kaul to tell the court about the steps taken by the government on the letter written by Ram Jethmalani to some authority in Germany and the response to it.

Jethmalani in his March 29, 2014, communication to Herrn Bundesminister, Dr. Wolfgang Schauble urged him to ask the German government to declare that it had no objection to the Indian government making public the names of Indian account holders in banks of Liechtenstein whose names were given to India by it.

The court directed the Centre to give Jethmalani details of the account holders in banks of Liechtenstein that were submitted to the court on May 1, 2014. The court's order came as senior counsel Divan told the court that the government had given it the names of 18 people against whom prosecution has been launched but held back the names of eight people

Divan told the court that two sets of names were submitted to the court in two separate envelopes but the government gave them one set of names and not the other.

The apex court by its July 4, 2011, order had set up the SIT which was mandated to undertake the investigations into the unaccounted money stashed away outside the country in tax havens and foreign banks and take steps to bring it back.

(Posted on 20-08-2014)

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