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Cabinet obeys SC order for SIT to probe black money

The Narendra Modi government decided on Tuesday to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe all cases of black money, including the one related to stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan. The decision obeys a Supreme Court order.

The SIT will be headed, as the SC wanted, by its former judge, M B Shah, with another former apex court judge, Arijit Pasayat, as vice-chairman.

Other members of the team will be the revenue secretary, the heads of the Intelligence Bureau, Central Bureau of Investigation, Research and Analysis Wing and enforcement directorate, chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, a deputy governor of the Reserve Bank, head of the Narcotics Control Bureau and director of the Financial Intelligence Unit.

“It is an important issue for us and was taken up as the first agenda of the new government. This indicates the commitment of the new government to pursue the issue of black money in right earnest,” telecom and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a post-cabinet briefing.

A press statement said the SIT was charged with the responsibility and duties of investigation, initiation of proceedings and prosecution in the cases of Hasan Ali and other matters involving unaccounted money.

Pune-based stud farm house owner Hasan Ali Khan was alleged to have dealt in huge sums of money, operating bank accounts in Switzerland, UK and Indonesia. The cases related to Khan and the larger black money issue became scoring points between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections.

“The panel will have jurisdiction in cases where investigations have commenced, are pending, are awaiting to be initiated or have been completed,” said the government.

The SIT will prepare a comprehensive action plan, including creation of an institutional structure that could enable the country to fight the battle against unaccounted money. “It should report on the status of its work to the court from time to time,” the statement added.

The SC on May 22 had given the Centre a week to notify an SIT to probe cases of black money. A vacation bench of judges B S Chauhan and A K Sikri granted time as the earlier deadline fixed by the apex court for constituting the SIT had expired.

Prasad said earlier, the Supreme Court had given certain orders but there were some delays. “Tomorrow is the last date (for setting up of SIT). Therefore, the very first agenda in accordance with its policy commitment was to have this very high-profile SIT,” he added.

The decision by the court came on a petition filed by senior advocate Ram Jethmalani.

The cabinet meets on Wednesday to decide dates for Parliament’s budget session.



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