The Central Government, represented by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, had a tough time before the Chief Justice’s Court in defending the Union of India’s stand in the ‘black money case’. The Solicitor General, Ranjith Kumar, was also present in the Court to assist the Attorney General. The Petitioner’s side was represented by Anil Dewan, Ram Jethmalani and Prashant Bhushan.
The Attorney General based on the application moved by the Union of India, tried to underline the difficulties faced by the Centre in disclosing the names. It was argued that a logical conclusion of investigation/enquiry being carried out by SIT is a condition precedent for disclosure of the names. The Attorney tried relentlessly submitting that disclosing names at this juncture would adversely affect the impending Treaties and privacy of the account holders.
The Court was at its best in tearing down the argument put across by the Attorney General. The Court asked “Why are you having a protective umbrella for the foreign bank account holders”. The Court further questioned the stand of the Government stating that when the Government had all the names, then what wasthe point in disclosing just three names? The Court observed that the nature of investigation into the legality of the accounts would never happen in lifetime. The Court reminded the Union that the Public Interest Litigation is not an adversary litigation between Mr. Jethmalani and others, Mr. Jethmalani is only an informant and like Mr. Jethmalani court is also equally concerned about Country’s wealth lying outside, which is to be brought back. The Court mentioned that there cannot be a change in the stand of the Government with the change in the regime and therefore it is not going to change a word of its previous order.
The Attorney General tried his best to defend the action of the Government by repeatedly submitting that the Government would be giving the names to the Special Investigation Team (SIT). By evading Court’s directions, to submit the names to the Court throughout, the Attorney persisted until the end of the hearing. In response to which the Court was equally relentless and directed that first provide the names to the Court and then if necessary the Court would be directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe into the matter and the SIT’s probe, if necessary, could be suspended for the time being.
Finally the Attorney General had to cave-in and sought time of 2 days to submit the names. But the Court in view of the retirement of Hon'ble Mrs. Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, who is also a member of the bench hearing the case, directed the Government to submit the names by tomorrow.
In view of the direction of the Supreme Court, the Government has to submit all the names received from vaious foreign countries in concern with the black money, in sealed covers by tomorrow.