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SC Sets Up SIT:BLACK MONEY NAILED, by P. K. Vasudeva, 13 Jul, 2011 Print E-mail

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New Delhi, 13 July 2011 

SC Sets Up SIT


By Col. (Dr.) P. K. Vasudeva (Retd)


Three cheers to the Supreme Court for its unique order on 4 July when it directed the setting up of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to monitor the investigations on the issue of black money. In its 67 pages verdict, a two-member Bench comprising Justices Sudershan Reddy and Justice S.S Nijjar, demanded stringent action against Indian nationals who had stashed illegally unaccounted money in foreign banks and tax havens.

The Bench also ordered the disclosure of the names and other particulars concerning such persons and their accounts. Importantly, this historic verdict was the result of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Messrs Ram Jethmalani and others, demanding immediate action on black money hoarded abroad by Indians.

This is not all. The Apex Court has not only done great justice to the issue of black money, but is also a masterly treatise on the duties and obligations of the State and the parameters determining the quality of governance. Along-with the inescapable imperatives of transparency and accountability to which elected Governments in a democracy are required to conform.

Pertinently, the order comes against the backdrop of estimates that India has the largest numbers of account holders who have illegally salted away trillions of dollars of ill gotten black money in foreign banks.

Further, the verdict gives a disturbing account of all the instances of tardiness by the Government in unearthing black money and its willingness to turn a blind eye to the glaring malfeasance of the gangs involved in the Government and other public service personalities (criminals).

It also shows the Government in poor light vis-à-vis handling of the black money issue within and outside the country which points a finger towards our present rulers. Worse, it is one of the most scathing attacks on the UPA Government for dilly-dallying on the issue.

The Court order states: “Depending on the volume of such monies, and the number of incidents through which such monies are generated and secreted away, it may very well reveal the degree of softness of the State.”

Significantly, the judgment goes beyond the back money issue and raises the matter whether India is also becoming a failed State. Quoting from Director on Intra-State Conflict and Conflict Resolution, Robert Rothberg’s book ‘When States fail: Causes and Consequences’ the verdict dwells on the features of a failed State, which are remarkably similar to those present in the country.

Namely, unparalleled economic opportunity confined to a privileged few, hand-in-glove with the ruling oligarchy; conspicuous absence of the Government's responsibility to maximise the well-being and prosperity of all its citizens; and flourishing corruption --- petty and “lubricating,” on one side, and uncontrollably escalating on an unusually destructive scale, on the other.

Undoubtedly, the Supreme Court order on the Government and its investigative and enforcement agencies like Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conduct leaves one with the impression that insofar as black money is concerned, all have not only been negligent of their duties but it also points to deficiency in service under the Constitution.

Primarily, one of the reasons why the Jan Lokpal Bill has not been passed in the Parliament for the last over 60 years. True, the doubts would continue to remain even after a ‘watered down’ Bill is passed in the near future, notwithstanding agitations by the civil society.

The Supreme Court actually gives blunt expression to its worry on “the extent of (systemic) incapacities …as well as (those) of ethical nature, (which) go to the very heart of, (and run a foul of), Constitutional imperatives of governance”.

It minces no words while pointing out “the lack of seriousness in the efforts of (the Government) is contrary to the requirements of laws and its Constitutional obligations…. (It) clearly indicates a compromise of the ability of the State to manage its affairs in consonance with what is required from a Constitutional perspective…. A substantial degree of incapacity, in the above respect, would be indicia of the degree of failure of the State,” it adds with good measure.

In essence, the picture emerging from the Court Order is of the Government's failure to discharge its functions in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution. If similar situation had arisen in respect of a State, it would have led to the imposition of the President Rule.

The Supreme Court's well-deserved Order of setting up a SIT with retired Supreme Court judges as the Chairman and Vice-Chairman and directing the Government to disclose to the petitioners the names and nature of the action taken, except in regard to investigations which are yet to be completed, can only mean a verdict which underscores lack of confidence in the bona fides of the Government. Clearly, the Government has no one but itself to blame for bringing this rap on itself by its various acts of omissions and commissions.

On the whole, the judgment has not only made the nation but also the Supreme Court proud. The people can now heave a sigh of relief that the truth will finally come out and the economy would get a big boost once the trillions of dollars illegally stashed in the foreign banks are brought back to the exchequer. Undeniably, this would put a stop to future movement of black money out of the country.

The aam aadmi have their fingers crossed and hope that the SIT will get full cooperation from the Centre and State Governments for unearthing the illegally stashed ‘peoples’ wealth in foreign countries. ---- INFA

Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

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