New Delhi, Oct 18 :
A day after the government told the Supreme Court it can’t yet disclose the names of people who have allegedly stashed their ill-gotten money in tax havens abroad, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Saturday said the stand was in keeping with the due process of law.
“The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s approach on black money is doggedly persistent – not adventurist,” Jaitley, a lawyer by profession and also the country’s defence minister, wrote in an article on a social media site.
“I am a little surprised by some of the headlines in today’s newspapers which state that the NDA Government has done a U turn on the issue of black money stacked up in Swiss bank accounts. Nothing can be farther from the truth.”
He said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will not withhold any information, including names of account holders. But they will be revealed after following the due process of completing the probe and reaching conclusions.
“Any premature and out of court disclosure of the names of account holders would not only vitiate the investigations, but will enable such account holders to get away with their offences,” he said.
“It will also violate India’s double taxation avoidance agreements with other countries and will choke receipt of all further information from those countries.”
He also charged the previous United Progressive Alliance Government (UPA) with not setting up a special investigative team (SIT) on the subject, as directed by the Supreme Court.
“At the first very cabinet meeting, Shri Narendra Modi cabinet decided to appoint the SIT. The SIT has been effectively functioning since then.”
The minister also said the Supreme Court had also directed the government to furnish the names that had been given by Germany to India, adding these names were given to the petitioner who made them public.
“The Germans strongly objected to this as a violation of the DTAA, which was entered between Government of India and Germany on June 19, 1995. The present NDA Government has unfortunately inherited the legacy of that DTAA,” he said.
“If we scrap the treaty, we get no further information. The covenant to the treaty is that the names of the account holders and information received thereunder will only be disclosed when charges are filed in court,” he said.
“They obviously cannot be utilized for political propaganda or for political mileage.”
Jaitley said his government stood committed to detect the names, prosecute the guilty and making them public, but it could not be pushed into adventurism and violate the treaties.
“Such an approach may actually help the account holders. Adventurism will be short-sighted. A mature approach will take us to the root of the matter.”