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It's plunder of the nation, says Supreme Court

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: Describing black money stashed away abroad by Indians as “pure and simple theft of national money,” the Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the Centre's approach to tackling this menace and retrieving the huge amount kept in foreign banks.

When Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam furnished in a sealed cover a list of 26 names who had accounts with Liechtenstein Bank, a Bench of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar was not convinced of the steps taken by the government for getting back black money.

Justice Reddy, after perusing the list, told the SG: “This is all the information you have or you have something more! We are talking about the huge money. It is a plunder of the nation. It is a pure and simple theft of the national money. We are talking about mind-boggling crime. We are not on niceties of various treaties.”

The Bench was hearing a petition filed by the former Union Law Minister, Ram Jethmalani, and others. Appearing for them, senior counsel Anil Divan earlier alleged inaction on the part of the Centre in bringing back black money parked in foreign banks.

Referring to Mr. Divan's submissions, quoting the former National Security Adviser, M.K. Narayanan, that the money stashed away in tax havens might have some terror links, Justice Reddy observed: “This is the problem which is worrying us. It is not only about tax evasion, it has something more.”

The SG said the government was taking all steps to retrieve black money but explained the difficulties in sharing the information. Sharing of information by the countries concerned depended on treaties, otherwise they were not bound to furnish details.

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