New Delhi: The Supreme Court today sought a response from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on a plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking permission to assist the panel in unearthing and bringing back black money from tax havens.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, sought SIT's reply on the BJP leader's intervention application in which he contended that the proposed black money bill, passed in the Lok Sabha, is completely inadequate to secure the return of the black money deposited abroad and it has no provisions at all on how to secure the stock of the black money.
Senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for SIT, said there is already an order of the apex court that anybody who wanted to give suggestion or help in probe can approach SIT. The bench, also comprising Justices M B Lokur and A K Sikri, said SIT can clarify the position in its response.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, on whose PIL SIT was set up, said he was alone in his fight and now he was happy that Swamy has come to support him. “I welcome the support and information that may be provided by Swamy.” he said.
The proceedings in the matter had commenced with the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informing the apex court that the government was complying with its order and assisting SIT by supplying all relevant documents.
Swamy, in his plea said, he can assist this court to devise ways to bring back black money of Indians stashed away in foreign banks.
“As an economist and a long-time Professor of Economics, and having held senior Cabinet minister positions, the applicant believes he can assist this Court to devise ways to bring back black money of Indians stashed away in foreign secret banking (estimated to be held presently in some 90 countries and tax havens),” Swamy said.
Swamy said in his application that there are four ways by which the names of and accounts illegally held abroad by Indian citizens can be ascertained and acted on. He said the first method is for CBI/ED to register an FIR, obtain a Letter of Request under section 166A of Criminal Procedure Code (1973) from a designated court and then (making use of the Swiss Law On International Judicial Assistance in Criminal Matters seek Swiss cooperation) proceed to get Swiss cooperation which the Swiss authorities will be obliged to facilitate.
The second method, he said, is the German/French method which these two governments used to obtain records of a particular bank by offering monetary inducements to willing senior bank officials.
This is what these two countries did with Bank of Lichtenstein and HSBC in Geneva. He said the third method is the one used by the US authorities against Washington DC-based branch offices of the Union Bank of Switzerland and Credit Suisse by which the US obtained the names of over 5000 US citizens who had illegally opened accounts in these banks.
When these banks had claimed secrecy as a business principle, the US authorities simply arrested Washington DC-based senior officers of these two banks. Thereafter, the bank headquarters gave in and shared the desired information. India too has these Swiss bank branch offices in Mumbai and this method can be pressed into service for this purpose, he said.
Swamy said the fourth method is the one suggested by eminent jurist and senior advocate Fali S Nariman in his Rajya Sabha speeches and OPED articles in newspapers, viz., advocating invoking the Resolution of the UN Convention against Corruption adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2005 and ratified by India in 2011.