The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Centre for the latter's failure to comply with its July 2011 order directing it to disclose the names of Indians who have stashed away money in foreign banks particularly in Germany.
The details of Indian account holders in banks of Liechtenstein, a landlocked country in central Europe bordering Switzerland and Austria, were furnished to the government by Germany.
The bench headed by Justice H L Dattu termed the government's conduct as "contemptuous".
The bench also comprising Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Madan B Lokur said the government has used the shield of review petition to put in cold storage the directions of the court issued on July 4, 2011.
"This order was passed in 2011. In the name of the review petition, you (government) don't carry out our orders. This is nothing but contempt of court," said Justice Dattu, taking exception to solicitor general Mohan Parasaran's submission that four directions of July 2011 order had to be read in conjunction and not separately.
The court made it clear that at no stage, the operation of July 2011 was stayed and it was incumbent upon the government to continue with the investigation.
The apex court in its July 2011 order had directed the Centre to furnish to petitioners and counsel Ram Jethmalani and others "forthwith" all those "documents and information which they have secured from Germany" in connection with Indian account holders in the banks of Liechtenstein.
Rejecting the plea by solicitor general Parasaran that the first direction could not be read without the direction that provides for a special investigation team (SIT), the court said the use of word "forthwith" itself says that the information secured from Germany has to be provided to Jethmalani and others immediately without waiting for any other outcome.
The bench also said that there was no ambiguity in the four directions issued by the court in July 2011 and adeded saying each of the directions had to be seen independently and not together.
Deferring the matter to April 29, the court asked the senior law officer to take instructions from the government why it failed to comply with the directions of the court without waiting for the SIT coming into existence.
The court also asked both the petitioners -- Jethmalani and Parasaran -- to suggest a common name to be appointed as chairman of the SIT after it took on record two communications sent by Justice B P Jeevan Reddy expressing his inability to function as the SIT head.
The court asked both sides to ascertain whether Justice MB Shah - the vice chairman of the SIT -- would like to step into the shoes of Justice Reddy.
In any case, the court said both the parties have to suggest a replacement and it would be better that the suggested name was common to both of them.