UPA government’s repeated attempts to shield the holders of bank-accounts in foreign countries received a major setback on April 22 when the Supreme Court pulled it up for its failure to comply with its July 2011 order directing it to disclose the names of Indians who have stashed away black money in foreign banks particularly in Germany. The details of Indian account holders in banks of Liechtenstein, a landlocked country in Central Europe bordering Switzerland and Austria, were furnished to the government by Germany.
Supreme Court pulls up again on Black Money
The bench, headed by Justice HL Dattu termed the government’s conduct as ‘contemptuous’. The bench, also comprising Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Madan B Lokur, said the government has used the shield of review petition to put in cold storage the directions of the court issued on July 4, 2011. “This order was passed in 2011. In the name of the review petition, you (government) don't carry out our orders. This is nothing but contempt of court,” said Justice Dattu, taking exception to solicitor general Mohan Parasaran's submission that four directions of July 2011 order had to be read in conjunction and not separately.
Deferring the matter to April 29, the court asked the senior law officer to take instructions from the government why it failed to comply with the directions of the court without waiting for the SIT coming into existence.
The court also made it clear that at no stage, the operation of July 2011 was stayed and it was incumbent upon the government to continue with the investigation. The apex court in its July 2011 order had directed the Centre to furnish to petitioners and counsel Ram Jethmalani and others ‘forthwith’ all those ‘documents and information which they have secured from Germany’ in connection with Indian account holders in the banks of Liechtenstein.
Rejecting the plea by Solicitor General Parasaran that the first direction could not be read without the direction that provides for a Special Investigation Team (SIT), the court said the use of word ‘forthwith’ itself says that the information secured from Germany has to be provided to Jethmalani and others immediately without waiting for any other outcome.
Create a Special Cell at SC Registry to Monitor Compliance of its Verdicts
After the Supreme Court directives it is now clear that the UPA government is shielding the Indian holders of bank-accounts in foreign countries for reasons known to decision-takers. With Supreme Court already seized with heavy number of petitions before it, the matter of non-compliance of Supreme Court verdict could come only after three years of the said verdict. Union government should immediately disclose names of the Indian holders of bank-accounts in Germany as directed by the Supreme Court. Guilty ones in Union government should get exemplary punishment in a manner that they may be compelled to disclose names of those who might have stopped them to comply with the Apex Court verdict. It will also act as a deterrent for any future non-compliance of court-verdicts and verbal directions by those in power for not complying with Apex Court verdicts.
To avoid such extra-ordinary delays of compliance of its verdicts, a special cell should be established at Supreme Court Registry to monitor compliance of Supreme Court verdicts especially in issues involving larger issues of national and public importance. Petitioners can request and the benches of Supreme Court may direct the suggested special cell to monitor compliance of its verdict in the time-bound period. Parties may be directed to submit a copy of the compliance-report to this suggested special cell. In case suggested special cell finds that apex court verdict is not complied with, it can immediately put the matter for hearing before the concerned bench without requiring petitioner to re-approach the court, which is time-consuming.
-Madhu Agrawal, RTI Activist