The Supreme Court has said that "some progress has been made" by its special investigation team (SIT) in bringing back 'black money' parked on foreign shores.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice HL Dattu made this observation on Wednesday while taking on record an interim report submitted by the SIT. The bench declined the petitioner and noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani's request for a copy of the report and refused to disclose its contents.
"It is purely confidential. Some progress has been made. We direct the SIT to proceed with the task assigned to them," the bench said, while allowing Jethmalani access to SIT members to offer the team suggestions on bringing back 'black money'. "Jethmalanai and his counsel are free to interact with the SIT to make suggestions as to the manner and means by which black money lying in foreign banks can be brought back to India."
'Black money' refers to illegal and unaccounted money held in overseas accounts by Indian entities. The Indian government has no estimate of how much black money is overseas.
The only official reference to black money stashed abroad dates back to February 2012, when the then director of the Central Bureau of Investigation stated that Indians have $500 billion of illegal funds in foreign tax havens.
The apex court also asked the Centre to respond on the communication of German authorities to Jethmalani after he had written to them alleging that name of a former Indian prime minister had cropped up among the list of people who had parked their black money in banks there. Jethmalani's lawyer Anil Divan told the bench that in response to Jethmalani's communication, the German authorities had informed his attorney that they had supplied information to the Indian government.
The bench then asked Jethmalani to hand over the three letters addressed by him to German authorities to Additional Solicitor General NK Kaul, who will take instructions from competent authorities for making statement on the next date of hearing on November 11.
The apex court had constituted the SIT headed by its former judge MB Shah on a plea of Jethmalani who had moved the court for the purpose of getting black money back to the country.