Black money probe

One of the issues that have been rattling the Government and political parties in power for a long time is of black money or the money stashed by Indian citizens in foreign banks about which it is suspected that tax payment on the deposited amount has been evaded. This became a big political issue before as well as after the Parliamentary election. It will be remembered that Baba Ramdev made it the main issue of agitation led by him against the UPA Government. Even Anna Hazare, too, had raised the issue of black money and impressed upon the UPA Government to bring it back.
It is not only now that this issue has stolen the march over other issues in our country. Actually the matter has been making rounds since a decade or two but no Central Government ever took it very seriously. This helped rumour-mongers to malign many people in the country, big and small, without any solid proof to prove their accusations. Even some maligning was politically motivated as well and perhaps personal vendetta also was a factor working behind the scene. This wild goose chase resulted in compelling the Government to take action and come back with its reaction.
People began to accuse first the UPA and then present NDA Government of soft peddling with the issue of getting back the money because, they alleged that big political game was working behind the scene. It was alleged that some very powerful and politically very influential persons were involved and since the parties in power were beneficiaries of their largesse, the Government was reluctant to disclose the name or take up the case with foreign banks. We will not go into that part of story.
But it has to be said that the question of retrieving the money from foreign banks is not that easy as people might think. The banks in which the alleged money has been deposited are not governed by our rules but by the rules of respective countries. For example in Switzerland, banks are forbidden from disclosing the credits of depositors even if they are foreign nationals. It is so because Switzerland is a neutral country. Indians have mostly deposited their monies in Swiss Banks and this comes under the current rules and regulations of Swiss Government. Therefore the Swiss Government cannot oblige us by disclosing the names of Indian depositors.
Secondly, it is difficult to establish whether tax has been paid or not paid at source. The difficulty arises that the depositor’s name is not known nor does any agency offer to disclose it. How then can it be established whether tax has been paid or not? We shall also have to take into account the nature of financial treaties our country has signed with foreign countries and whether or not the case of depositing money in foreign banks falls in the category of black money or not. We should note that the Supreme Court Bench has said that all money stashed by Indians in foreign banks may not be black money.
In this back ground two things are in progress. One is that the opposition and their accomplices have begun to charge the NDA Government with willfully avoiding disclosure of names of persons supposed to have black money in foreign banks. They say that BJP had made recovery of black money as an item on its election campaign and ask why the NDA Government is dragging its feet? Thus pressure has been brought on the NDA Government to disclose the names. At the same time, the case is also with the Supreme Court where PIL has been lodged demanding that the Government disclose the names and declare the action it would be taking against the culprits. In this scenario, the Apex Court demanded the Government to furnish the names. It rebuffed the Government for disclosing only seven names in the first list and demanded that all names be disclosed.  But NDA Government categorically stated that it has no intention of hiding the names and would disclose these at proper time and in full. We are told that while the Swiss Government had turned down the request of the GoI of disclosing the details of bank accounts of Indian depositors, yet it had suggested some formula to ascertain whether tax on the deposited amount had been paid at the source or not.
Finally the Government has submitted a sealed document to the Apex Court which contains names of 627 Indian account holders in HSBC Bank Geneva. The Apex Court has passed it on without opening the seal to the Special Investigation Team constituted by it with instructions to open the seal and take whatever action can be taken under law against the defaulters. In this way, a raging controversy has been laid at rest and now the verdict of the SIT will be awaited.
But the most important aspect of the case should not be looked over. It is totally unacceptable from nationalist point of view that such huge monies are not deposited in national banks but are sent out and deposited in foreign banks. It is a shameful proof of lack of nationalist spirit among the depositors depositing in foreign banks. True that they have the freedom of depositing money in foreign banks but imagine what a loss it is to the nation which would have utilized the money for developmental works if it had been deposited in Indian banks. In our opinion taking Indian money out and depositing it in foreign banks should be considered an anti-national act and banned under law with certain genuine exceptions. Parliament has the powers to take appropriate measures in controlling outflow of Indian money even after taxes have been paid. Some strict restriction has to be imposed under law. We are a developing country and we need enormous monies for investing in mega developmental schemes in the country. Why should not our depositors contribute to the progress of the motherland? It is a matter of shame for these depositors not to invest their money in the country. What they do is enriching the rich countries further at the cost of their own country.


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