SIT to go after blackmoney offenders: Justice Shah

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 31 2014, 01:55am hrs
The Supreme Court-appointed SIT, looking into the black money cases, today said it will go after the offenders "big or small" and will submit its report by the first week of December.

It also made clear that confidentiality about account holders abroad will not be violated. The SIT said it was gathering more names other than the over 600 account holders in HSBC bank, Geneva, given by the government to Supreme Court yesterday, for investigation.

"The second report would be given to Supreme Court on December 3 or 4," Justice Shah told PTI after a meeting of SIT members here today. Its first report was submitted in August this year.

The panel said that everyone was equal before it and it would not spare any offender.

"Before us, nobody is big, nobody is small. Everybody is equal. Whoever has looted this country will be caught and will be punished, economically and otherwise also. That we assure," Vice Chairman Justice Arijit Pasayat said.

Justice Shah said up till now they have decided a number of cases against the big personalities of the country. "We won't bother who is big. We will treat them equally with a poorest person of the country," he said. Both are retired judges of Supreme Court.

Amidst a raging debate over disclosure of names of foreign bank accounts holders that could threaten future cooperation with other countries, the SIT chairman said confidentiality agreement cannot be violated.

"Confidentiality clause is there and for the time being we have to respect it unless the other country (says)...

"Confidentiality is an international agreement. You cannot violate the agreement. If you violate it, further information would not be given by them and confirmation by other country is necessary. There is a proof that man is having that account. That proof you won't get it," he said.

Justice Shah said the investigation against people accused of stashing money abroad is going on at "very fast" pace and necessary action will be taken against them.

"The investigation in all blackmoney cases is going on at a very fast pace and all the agencies have their task clear. I am sure it will give us good results. I don't think the speed is slow as investigation of tax and other such cases involves procedures of law. The agencies are doing it and the SIT is seeing that," he said.

"Even if the order is passed, party approaches the court and obtain a stay order. So in that set of circumstances, it is difficult to say that department is not moving fast. The department is moving fast. They (department and officials) have taken action also," he said.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had yesterday submitted a list of 627 names having accounts in HSBC bank, Geneva. These names were earlier shared with the SIT also.

Justice Shah said there will be more prosecution of people who have stashed blackmoney "within the reasonable time". The SIT is also sharing data with other agencies to help it in speeding up its probe, he said.

Justice Shah said there is no problem in sharing of information among various members of the SIT. "There are some cases with the ED and CBI also and there is no problem of sharing. Everything that can be shared is being shared," he said.

To a question, the SIT chief did not rule out the possibility of blackmoney being routed through foreign banks. "They must be... For the time being we are not having that information," he said.

The Joint Secretary (Revenue) in the Finance Ministry is Member Secretary in the SIT. The JS (Revenue) is coordinating with all the agencies and there is no problem in sharing of information, official sources said.

The SIT, which was notified on May 29, has held its first meeting on June 2. The members of the SIT includes Revenue Secretary, Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Directors of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Besides, chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Directors General of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and DRI, and Joint Secretary (Foreign Tax and Tax Research Division-I) are also members of the group. The SIT is responsible for investigating cases of black money stashed abroad through coordination of various members.