New Delhi: Noted jurist Ram Jethmalani today accused in the Supreme Court the NDA government and the previous UPA dispensation of failure to bring back black money stashed abroad and criticised leaders including Prime Minister, BJP President and Finance Minister on the issue.
“I am suspecting wrong (done) by both the sides and the fraud has been perpetuated by both the sides,” he told a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu during a hearing on a petition filed by him and others on the issue of black money.
Jethmalani did not spare Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his close aide and BJP President Amit Shah accusing them of failing on poll promise of bringing back the illegal money. He said that this was “amply clear” from Shah's interview to a TV channel on February 5, 2015 when he stated that Modi's promise to bring back the black money during his election campaign in 2014 was a “political jumla (platitude)”.
“There has been no retraction of this statement by Shah. There has been no retraction of this statement by the Department of Finance. There has been no retraction of this statement by the President.
“The presumption is that the two gentlemen, the party (BJP) President and the Prime Minister, are in concurrence with each other,” he told the bench also comprising justices M B Lokur and A K Sikri before which the SIT placed its third report on the progress of investigations in the sealed cover.
“It shocks me, a person who is fighting black money since April, 2009, and I had referred to Modi as an ‘avatar',” he said referring to the poll promise made by Modi.
Jethmalani also attacked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley without taking his name by saying that “the innocent finance minister” has been quoted as saying that India has not identified any tax heaven.
He said that this was in contrast to what was stated by Pranab Mukherjee, who during his tenure as Finance Minister in the UPA government, had issued a white paper in which he claimed that India has identified 45 tax heavens.
“I call this as black paper on black money”, he said as an aside. “This is circumstantial evidence that something is wrong. These people are not ashamed of what they are doing,” he said. He also assailed the working of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) saying, “the SIT is loaded with people who are loyal to previous government”.
Jethmalani was particularly severe on the CBDT Chairperson Anita Kapur, who ex officio became a member of the SIT by virtue of the apex court order.
He alleged that as Joint Secretary in the Finance Ministry she had handed over 17 letters/correspondences with foreign authorities and in them, the names of authors and adressees were blacked out.
“Most of the 17 letters are signed by her. The tragedy of the nation is that the govermment has kept those persons who were party to the previous government and they are in the SIT and they are loyal to their masters and not to the country,” he said.
However, when Jethmalani was making allegations against the CBDT chairperson including that she was not handing over him the documents, the bench said she cannot be blamed for that “because we directed SIT to give documents.”
“You cannot be asking Anita Kapur to give it to you. You can ask to SIT. You cannot be approaching Anita Kapur but to the SIT,” the bench said.