Millennium Post

Black money probe: SC sets March deadline

Already facing a tough time with the Opposition on the issue of bringing back black money, the Government on Wednesday faced ire of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to ensure that the ongoing income tax probe for suspected black money concerning 627 Indians who have accounts in HSBC bank, Geneva, does not get time barred and be completed by March next year.

The court also said that if for any reasons the probe remains inconclusive, the Centre would take appropriate decision to extend the deadline of March 31, 2015. A Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu also asked the apex court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the cases of black money to consider the plea for furnishing certain information and correspondences received by it to the petitioners without “blackening” the contents.

Eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani, who is one of the petitioners in the matter, submitted that the Solicitor General in the previous UPA government, Mohan Parasaran, had supplied some letters and documents after masking certain portions.

The bench, also comprising Justices M B Lokur and A K Sikri, accepted another plea of Jethmalani’s counsel Anil Divan that the SIT headed by Justice M B Shah, should consider the plea for providing him the copies of the reports of its probe into the black money cases.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi responded to the pleas saying that he would not say “no” for supplying the copies of the reports submitted by the SIT and also assured that the issue of time bar would not arise in the tax probe for suspected black money. “We are aware of it and there would not be any problem as now the prosecution for tax evasion can be initiated upto 16 years of commission of the offence,” he said.

The bench, in its order, said, “we are confident that the proceedings before the income tax department will be completed by March 31, 2015 and if for any reasons it is not completed, we are confident that appropriate decision will be taken”. Rohatgi said he was not aware as to why certain portions of documents supplied to previous UPA regime was “blackened”.

While the issue of masking certain portions of documents was being deliberated, the bench said, “the dates and designation of officers are there and if you will try you can make out everything”. The bench, which posted the next hearing for January 20, said for all his grievances, Jethmalani can make representation before the SIT which will consider the plea.

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