Intro: On November 24, the winter session of Parliament began with the National Anthem. The Prime Minister introduced newly appointed colleagues of his Council of Ministers to the House.
The Speaker conveyed the congratulations to the Indian Space Research Organisations (ISRO) and their dedicated team of scientists and technologists for successfully placing Mangalyan in Mars orbit. Kailash Satyarthi the renowned Child Rights activist was felicitated for being invited for the Nobel Peace Prize. House joined in applauding the Indian contingent for their splendid performance at the seventeenth Asian Games. It extended the felicitations to Tennis Star Sania Mirza for winning the WTA Women’s Doubles Title and Saina Nehwal for Badminton title.
Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill was introduced and passed. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure the appointment of the CBI Director in the interest of the country.
Major decisions taken in 2014
Then Indian Institutes of information Technology Bill 2014 was passed with an endeavour to declare Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIT) located in Allahabad, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Kanchipuram as institutes of national importance.
The problem of black money is a serious issue, both within the country and outside. Several honourable Members have asked about the status as on date, whether the black money would be brought back to the country or not. —Arun Jaitley
Keeping in view the size of the State of Bihar and its population two Central universities have been proposed for higher education. Bills regarding the Labour laws, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, The Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, the Food Safety and Standards Bill were all passed in the Lok Sabha. The need to expedite the process of bringing black money stashed abroad was discussed in detail.
Arun Jaitley, the Minister of Finance said, “The problem of black money is a serious issue, both within the country and outside. Several honourable Members have asked about the status as on date, if the black money would be brought back to the country or not.
“Since, India had a treaty with France; we got the information that there were accounts of 627 persons in the HSBC Bank in Switzerland between 2005-2007. This information might have been received in 2008, 2009 or 2010. In the treaty which we had signed with Switzerland did not have a clause that Switzerland would share such information with us. In 2011, we entered into another agreement. By that time, 2007 to 2011, such account holders got time to withdraw their money. This is the status by when we came to the power. We sent a delegation to Switzerland and asked them to cooperate and enter into an agreement. In October, we entered into an agreement enabling a clause for penal action against such persons, even after withdrawal of the money by them. We had entered into an agreement with Switzerland on four issues. Firstly, to provide help only on the basis of documents and verify the same for their genuineness. It was also provided therein that we must initiate a dialogue for future and there should be automatic transformation of information about any account opened or transaction made by any Indian in Switzerland. We have identified 427 names out of the total 627 and served notices to all of them and they are being prosecuted. We are trying that tax assessment should be completed by March 31. The criminal cases will be filed against them. 250 have confessed that they have bank accounts abroad. This action is being taken under SIT jurisdiction.
“India have reached agreements with 92 countries and signed agreements with 93 countries under ‘Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty’ and discussions are going on with seven other countries on this issue. At present, our Tax Information Exchange Agreement already exists with 15 countries. We have entered into agreement with two other countries. There are other 29 countries where black money is stashed and we are trying to reach an agreement with them also. We are trying to reach an Automatic Transmission Agreement with all such countries of the world where people may stash black money in near future. Information will be shared if any Indian stashes black money abroad or any foreigner stashes money in India. Prime Minister made efforts for it in G-20 Summit held in Brisbane and the matter also came up at OECD. The most important information is that the ‘PATAKA’ law enacted by the USA makes it mandatory for each and every country to sign an agreement for sharing information of such accounts. It provides that thirty percent amount will be deducted from the money received from any exporter or FDI received or money sent by NRI to his family, if the Automatic Transmission of Information Agreement is not signed. There is also a confidentiality clause in it. It does not say that information will not be made public. The persons who plead to make the information public without any proof, are in turn helping such account holders.
“I honestly admit that there is a loophole in our law which is silent on the issue of bringing back the stashed money in case it is detected and we have to remove it. I have studied the Money Laundering Act, and we have to amend it. There should be provision to attach the property equal to the money found stashed abroad. In its verdict of year 2011, the Supreme Court stated that this confidentiality clause is incorrect. The world says that we will not help without the confidentiality clause. We are trying to plead to the Supreme Court to respect these treaties and it has left this issue to the SIT.
“I assure the House that the Government is treading on the correct legal path and soon such people will be punished and they will be forced to bring back the black money.”
Nirmala Sitaraman raised certain facts relating to recent developments in the World Trade Organisation which came to a successful conclusion on November 24, 2014. The decision includes a commitment to find a permanent solution on public stock holding for food security purposes by December 31, 2015 on a best endeavour basis. This introduces a sense of urgency in the process and would encourage other developing countries also to join the effort in pushing for a permanent solution at the earliest.
Santosh Kumar Gangwar moved a Textile Undertaking Laws Amendment Bill and it was passed after a lengthy discussion.
V Shanmuganathan (The writer is Additional Office Secretary of BJP Parliamentary Party Executive Committee)