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Ram Jethmalani is a senior politician and eminent lawyer.

Black money inaction is betrayal

The UPA government’s betrayal of the nation and the people’s trust is an unpardonable crime.

Manmohan Singh and Sonia Ganghi

n the light of government's scandalous inaction regarding retrieving black money looted out of India and preventing its further loot, the Supreme Court order directed the Union of India to appoint the High-Level Committee constituted by it as a Special Investigation Team, to be headed by the former eminent Supreme Court judges — Hon'ble Mr Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy as Chairman and Hon'ble Mr Justice M.B. Shah as Vice-Chairman.

The Apex Court directed that the Special Investigation Team, so constituted, "shall be charged with the responsibilities and duties of investigation, initiation of proceedings, and prosecution, whether in the context of appropriate criminal or civil proceedings of:

"(a) all issues relating to the matters concerning and arising from unaccounted for monies of Hassan Ali Khan and the Tapurias;

"(b) all other investigations already commenced and are pending, or awaiting to be initiated, with respect to any other known instances of the stashing of unaccounted for monies in foreign bank accounts by Indians or other entities operating in India; and

"(c) all other matters with respect to unaccounted for monies being stashed in foreign banks by Indians or other entities operating in India that may arise in the course of such investigations and proceedings."

Instead of promptly creating the team and starting a vigorous drive for repatriation of stolen national wealth, the government did nothing for weeks together, after which it filed a petition to the Supreme Court to recall its order.

The Court further clarified "that within the ambit of responsibilities described above, also lie the responsibilities to ensure that the matters are also investigated, proceedings initiated and prosecutions conducted with regard to criminality and/or unlawfulness of activities that may have been the source for such monies, as well as the criminal and/or unlawful means that are used to take such unaccounted for monies out of and/or bring such monies back into the country, and use of such monies in India or abroad. The Special Investigation Team shall also be charged with the responsibility of preparing a comprehensive action plan, including the creation of necessary institutional structures that can enable and strengthen the country's battle against generation of unaccounted for monies, and their stashing away in foreign banks or in various forms domestically.

"(v) That the Special Investigation Team so constituted shall report and be responsible to this Court, and that it shall be charged with the duty to keep this Court informed of all major developments by the filing of periodic status reports, and following of any special orders that this Court may issue from time to time;

"(vi) That all organs, agencies, departments and agents of the State, whether at the level of the Union of India, or the state government, including but not limited to all statutorily formed individual bodies, and other constitutional bodies, extend all the cooperation necessary for the Special Investigation Team so constituted and functioning;

"(vii) That the Union of India, and where needed even the state governments, are directed to facilitate the conduct of the investigations, in their fullest measure, by the Special Investigation Team so constituted and functioning, by extending all the necessary financial, material, legal, diplomatic and intelligence resources, whether such investigations or portions of such investigations occur inside the country or abroad;

"(viii) That the Special Investigation Team also be empowered to further investigate even where charge-sheets have been previously filed; and that the Special Investigation Team may register further cases, and conduct appropriate investigations and initiate proceedings, for the purpose of bringing back unaccounted for monies unlawfully kept in bank accounts abroad."

Supreme Court order should shame UPARAM JETHMALANI

UPA defies SC order on black moneyRAM JETHMALANI

No honest government should have any quarrel either with the findings recorded by the Supreme Court or the final directions issued by it.

Ministers of the government including the Prime Minister and leaders of the Congress party should have tendered an apology to the nation and made a solemn pledge that they will repair the damage caused by their corrupt non performance and dereliction of duty. The appointment of Special Investigation Teams for investigation of serious offences where the available agencies have shown ineptitude or abdication of their obligations has been a regular feature of the Hon'ble Supreme Court compelling performance of constitutional duties by delinquent servants of the state. In the present case the Supreme Court has done nothing unusual.

But, instead of promptly creating the team and starting a vigorous drive for repatriation of stolen national wealth, the government did nothing for weeks together, after which it filed a petition to the Supreme Court to recall its order. In the meanwhile, complete opportunity was given to the involved criminals to arrange to secrete the money and destroy evidence of their crimes. I consider this act of government nothing short of treason. Did not the ex-Finance Minister very glibly announce to the press that the amount available in Hassan Ali's account is a mere $50,000 (as against the original amount of more than $8 bn)? No one could miss the triumphant smirk that he wore on his face as he said this, in place of the shame or disgrace that should have followed the serious strictures. Somewhere, sometime, he will have to explain to the nation and people of India. In due course the Apex Court and certainly the sovereign court of the people of India will condemn and punish the government.

I must now ask a few questions to the Hon'ble Prime Minister and the president of the Congress party about some of their recent crimes against the nation and the people of India:

1) The Congress government having taken over by legislation all the rights of the victims of the Bhopal tragedy the government sued for the recovery of $3.3 bn (Rs 183,029,028,977). You settled this amount for 1/7th of the original claim and in addition non compoundable offences of serious nature stood compromised and the proceedings quashed. There is credible evidence that the Union Carbide paid much more but the government managed to receive it under the table. Why are you not producing the correspondence and the relevant notings which resulted in this corrupt compromise?

2) Hassan Ali's Swiss account with the credit of over $8 bn was discovered in 2007. The Swiss offered to give all information. All that they asked you to do was to tell them that you were seriously investigating a money laundering offence. Is it not a fact that your government frustrated this?

3) When the French got the names of criminals spread throughout the world including Indians, they offered to share the information with our government without any cost or condition. Please disclose to the nation what steps you took to get the money and the names of the offenders?

4) Did not the German government manage to obtain a large number of offenders' names and also make a similar offer to your government? Will you please inform the nation what steps you have taken to secure this information from the Germans?

5) Do you admit that you have received a large number of names from the two governments not because of your pressure and persuasion, but out of their sense of obligation to the world community?

6) The Apex Court directed that the Union of India shall forthwith disclose to the petitioners all those documents and information which they have secured from Germany, in connection with the matters discussed. Why are you not disclosing the names which the Supreme Court has directed you to disclose to the petitioners?

Betrayal of the nation and of the people's trust are unpardonable crimes, particularly when at least one third of our population is struggling for survival, and is swathed in poverty. There appears to be no sign of penance from the government yet, but they would be insane to think that they can escape culpability for their crimes.

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