Black money has become a real nuisance for India as Indian wealth has been accumulating in foreign jurisdictions instead of being used for development of Indian masses. Decades of corruption has resulted in mass misappropriation of Indian wealth and deposit of the same in foreign banks. For reasons unknown, no concrete and effective efforts were undertaken by Indian government to bring back Indian wealth.
Most probably, the black money is owned by our corrupt politicians, greedy businessmen and criminals. In the absence of any cooperation from foreign banks and entities it has become a daunting task to bring back the black money. Nevertheless this is a weak stand and no excuse and a strong and well articulated approach would produce positive results. The only question is how far the new government is willing to take the challenge and show its metal.
These gloriously and golden words of Swami Vivekananda can help us in transforming India into a world power. “What we now want are muscles of iron and nerves of steel, gigantic will which nothing can resist, which can penetrate into the mysteries and the secrets of the universe, and will accomplish their purpose in any fashion, even if it meant going down to the bottom of the ocean and meeting death face to face”.
Now some ray of hope is there as the government is expected to bring out a notification by next week for creation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT). Sources in the Finance Ministry informed that a notification citing the terms of operations and final constitution of the SIT “would be made very soon” and most likely “by next week”. The Supreme Court on May 23 had granted one week’s time to the Centre to set up SIT to monitor all black money cases as per its direction. The Supreme Court of India has already held that Section 6A of DSPE Act requiring prior sanction of Central Government to prosecute corrupt senior bureaucrats is unconstitutional.
“SIT will prepare a comprehensive action plan including the creation of necessary institutional structure that can enable the country to fight a battle against generation of unaccounted money” the terms of reference for the SIT said. The SIT “shall report to the Court and shall inform the Court of all major developments by filing periodic status reports from time to time and for this purpose, the Union of India shall accord all the necessary financial material, legal, diplomatic resources both inside and outside the country to the SIT”.
The proposed SIT will be headed by former Supreme Court judge MB Shah with Justice Arijit Pasayat (retd) being the Vice Chairman. Heads or top officers of ten investigative and enforcement agencies of the country will be the members of the exclusive panel. The departments or officers that would form part of the SIT include Secretary of the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance, a nominated Deputy Governor of RBI, Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Director of Enforcement, Director CBI, CBDT Chairman and Director General Narcotics Control Bureau. Also, DG Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Director Financial Intelligence Unit and Joint Secretary (Foreign Tax and Tax Research) in the Finance Ministry will be its members.
Fortunately, the terms of reference for the SIT are wide enough to cover a variety of cases and situations. SIT shall have jurisdiction over all the cases, where investigation has already commenced or pending or awaiting to be initiated or have completed with regard to instances of black money and illicit funds generated and sent to overseas destination and tax haven nations.
This is a golden opportunity for BJP government to bring back the Indian wealth and utilise it for public good. Even Income Tax Overseas Units (ITOUs) of India can be established in foreign countries to curb black money. However, India need a techno legal solution to deal with the current problem as neither technological nor legal approach would be sufficient to serve this purpose.