3:01 pm - Wednesday November 4, 2015

Govt submits 627 names of foreign account holders to Supreme Court

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NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday submitted a list comprising names of 627 Indians with foreign bank accounts in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court in an attempt to recover black money stashed abroad.

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi handed over three sets of documents to the Supreme Court.

The Centre said roughly half of them were resident Indians who could be prosecuted. The rest were NRIs who could not be prosecuted against under Indian tax laws, the attorney general, appearing on behalf of the Centre, said.

The court did not open the sealed envelope and sent it to its special investigation team tasked to bring back black money.

The move comes a day after the Supreme Court reprimanded the Modi-led government for “providing a protective umbrella to foreign bank account holders?”

The AG also brought up the double taxation avoidance agreement-related confidentiality clause which impeded Centre’s desire to make all names public. He said the Centre did not want to have any say in what the apex court intended to do with these 627 names, but said the Union government’s bilateral and international treaty obligations had to be addressed.

In response, the Supreme Court permitted the Centre to place its difficulties emanating from treaty obligations before the SIT. SC will hear the case again on December 3.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday had ordered the Centre to furnish in sealed cover names of all Indians holding accounts abroad by Wednesday hinting that it suspected the Narendra Modi government’s intent to get into the bottom of black money stashed abroad and taking steps to bring it back.

“Whatever information you have received from foreign countries, pass it on to us. We will ask the CBI or some other agency to investigate and give us a report. Don’t ask us to modify the earlier order (to reveal all the names). We will not change a word of it (the order). We take the responsibility of investigating the entire issue. We will ensure confidentiality of investigation,” a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices Ranjana P Desai and Madan B Lokur had said.

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