NEW DELHI, Oct 28 � Rejecting its stand, the Supreme Court today ordered the Centre to disclose all the names of black money holders abroad to it by tomorrow in a sealed envelope and slammed it for reluctance on the issue, reports PTI.
The apex court had some strong words for the new government for seeking modification of its earlier order on disclosure of all names saying this was accepted by the then UPA government.
�Why are you trying to protect people having bank accounts in foreign countries. Why are you providing a protective umbrella for all these people.
�The order was passed in open court in the presence of the Solicitor General and the new regime can�t ask modification of order. We cannot touch our order and we won�t change even a word of it,� a visibly annoyed Chief Justice HL Dattu, who was heading the bench, said.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi�s fervent plea that it can disclose names only after conducting probes on illegality of bank accounts was outright rejected by the bench, which asked the government not to do anything but provide all information to it and the court would direct investigation to be done by the SIT or any other agencies, including CBI.
At the end of a 30-minute hearing, the Attorney General said the government had received 500 names of account holders from different countries like Germany.
The CJI asked the Centre not to indulge in any kind of probe by itself and said investigation would never be complete in his lifetime if it is done by the government.
�You do not do anything. Just pass information of account holders to us and we will pass order for further probe,� the bench, also comprising justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Madan B Lokur, said.
�We can�t leave the issue of bringing back black money to government. It will never happen during our time,� it said adding, �Why are you providing
a protective umbrella to foreign bank account holders?�.
The bench brushed aside the contentions of the AG that disclosing account holders� names would violate their right to privacy of those who have legitimate accounts and the names can be revealed only after a prima facie case of tax evasion is made out.
�You do not have to take interest in people (having foreign bank accounts). SIT will take care of it,� the bench said, setting a deadline for tomorrow to place all those names.
The court directed the Centre not to give �one, two, or three names of account holders but the entire list supplied to it by the foreign countries�.
The Attorney General tried his best to convince the court that disclosure of names of all account holders could hamper the government�s efforts to bring back black money as the foreign countries might not give further information on tainted accounts in their territories.
He submitted that the apex court-appointed SIT is not a statutory body which can issue notice to account holders and it can be done only by the IT department. All information has already been given to the SIT, he added.
The bench, however, was not satisfied with his contention. �We want the names supplied to you by foreign countries. Pass the information to us. You give the information to us. We have taken up the case and are monitoring it. So give us the information and we would pass it to the SIT. The SIT would take the case to its logical conclusion.
�Why are you taking the trouble of a probe? Just give the information to SIT which will conduct the probe,� the bench said and observed that it is also �concerned� about the black money stashed by Indians in foreign banks.