'Govt least interested in getting black money back', Ram Jethmalani says
Ace lawyer Ram Jethmalani, whose efforts resulted in setting up of a Special Investigation Team to probe black money, on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the Narendra Modi government's promise to bring back illegal money stashed abroad was "worse than an illusion" and a "fraud on the nation".
With BJP leader Subramanian Swamy joining the noted lawyer in the pursuit of black money and accusing the government of being ineffective in bringing back illicit money from abroad, Jethmalani unleashed a slew of allegations saying "the NDA government has no intention to proceed against those stashing black money as the persons in power appear to be involved in it".
A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices Madan B Lokur and A K Sikri told Jethmalani that most of his demands had been acted upon either by the apex court or the SIT headed by two retired SC judges - Justices M B Shah and Arijit Pasayat.
However, the court asked attorney general Mukul Rohatgi to look into the two applications, one by Jethmalani and the other by Swamy - and file response in four weeks if the Centre so desired.
Jethmalani did not make any allegation in his application. But in his arguments, he leveled serious charges against the BJP-led NDA government. Referring to Parliament questions and answers given by the finance ministry on black money, he said, "Like the previous UPA government, the NDA government too is least interested in getting black money back."
He said Modi had promised during campaigning that BJP government would bring back black money within no time but party president Amit Shah, in an interview after the elections, had clarified that the promise was an election 'jumla' (idiomatic expression).
"The tragedy of this government is that they have kept in place those officers who had in the previous UPA regime blocked all efforts to trace black money stashed abroad," he alleged.
Training his guns on finance minister Arun Jaitley, Jethmalani said, "President Pranab Mukherjee, in his stint as finance minister, had informed Parliament that India has identified over 40 tax havens abroad which are the places where Indians stashed black money.
"But the present finance minister innocently tells Parliament that India has not identified any tax haven abroad. His understanding is worse than a schoolboy. Every schoolboy in India knows about the existence of tax havens where Indians park their illegal money. This is a circumstantial evidence to show that those in power today are involved in protecting the persons who stash black money abroad."