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‘Progress’ pat on black money

New Delhi, Aug. 20: The Supreme Court today expressed satisfaction at the “progress” made by the central government to track down black money stashed by Indians abroad.

“We say it is purely confidential. Some progress is made, that is all we can say,” a bench of Justices H.L. Dattu, Ranjana Prakash Desai and Madan B. Lokur observed, directing the registry to re-seal the first report placed before it by the special investigation team constituted by the Supreme Court.

The bench, which briefly went through the report, made the observation after senior counsel Anil Divan representing the eminent jurist and BJP MP, Ram Jethmalani, sought a copy.

Jethmalani had filed a PIL in the apex court alleging that over Rs 70,000 crore, which should rightfully belong to the national exchequer, was stashed in foreign banks by Indians.

The apex court today permitted Jethmalani and Divan to “interact” with the SIT members on nuances of the case and the possibility of getting black money from banks situated outside the country.

“They (Jethmalani and Divan) can only suggest the means and methods (of recovering) and nothing beyond,” the bench said.

It also asked the SIT to proceed with monitoring the government’s efforts to track the black money abroad. The court posted the matter for hearing on November 11.

At earlier hearings when the UPA regime was in power, the apex court had castigated the Centre for not displaying the necessary seriousness in recovering the money.

Subsequently, the UPA had placed in the apex court a list of 26 Indians who had massive amounts of wealth in foreign banks. Of them, 18 were found guilty of tax evasion and prosecution was launched against them.