The central government told the Supreme Court that it could not disclose the names, received from foreign governments, of people who have allegedly stashed away their ill-gotten money to tax havens, as it was bound by the confidentiality clause under the double taxation avoidance agreement.
Its stand was made in an application seeking modification of an earlier court order asking it to disclose the names all such people it had received from German government to the petitioner Ram Jethmalani.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the application for an urgent hearing before the a bench of Chief Justice H.L.Dattu, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice A.K.Sikri.
The government has said that the names of such account holders against whom the prosecution has been launched could be disclosed as they are in public domain but in case of others, it was bound by the confidentiality clause.A
The government has said that such disclosures would be counter productive for get information on black money stashed away in tax havens as foreign governments would not share such information in future.
The court had Aug 20 directed the central government to give Jethmalani details of the account holders in banks of Liechtenstein that were submitted to the court on May 1. The court’s order came as senior counsel Anil Divan told the court that government had given him the names of 18 people against whom prosecution has been launched but held back the names of eight people.
However, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, the petitioner in the plea seeking steps to bring back the black money stashed away to tax havens, assailed the government position saying that it could be position of people involved in taking ill-gotten money to tax havens and not that of the government.
Jethmalani Friday told the court that he had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.
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.
The SIT comprises the revenue secretary, the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, the director of the Intelligence Bureau, the director, enforcement directorate, the director, of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the director general of the Narcotics Control Bureau, director general, Revenue Intelligence, director, Financial Intelligence Unit, and Joint Secretary, (FT & TR-I) in the CBDT. The court had said that SIT would also include director, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
However, the SIT could not get operational till May 1 as the government dragged its feet on the issuing the notification. On May 1, the apex court held that there was no ambiguity in July 4, 2011 order and directed the central government to issue the necessary notification.
Initially by July 4, 2011, SIT was headed by former apex court judge Justice B.P.Jeevan Reddy with another former judge Justice M.B.Shah as second in commandA
However, Justice Jeevan Reddy withdrew from the SIT citing personal reasons. The court by its May 1 order made Justice M.B.Shah the chairman with another former apex court judge Justice Arijit Pasayat as vice chairman.