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“It is not right in God’s sight to obey men rather than God.”

Black money stashed abroad: Jaitley says can’t disclose names

NEW DELHI: After the government toed the UPA government’s line in the Supreme Court, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday blamed the agreement entered into by the Congress government with Germany in 1995 as a constraining factor in disclosing details of black money stashed abroad.

He rejected the charge that the Modi government was reluctant to part with information about the names of persons having black money abroad.

“Is the present NDA government led by Modi in any way reluctant to make some names public? Certainly not. We have no difficulty in making names public. But they can be made public only in accordance with due process of law.

“And the due process of law has been constrained by DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) which was entered into between India and Germany when the Congress Party was in power on June 19, 1995,” he told reporters.

Earlier in the day, Congress had slammed the Modi government for refusing to disclose the names of persons having black money accounts to the Supreme Court.

“This is not only a hiatus between the words and deeds of BJP, but sheer hypocrisy and dishonesty with the public of India. Modi government’s functioning is defined in the hiatus between speech and reality and action and words.

“One wonders whether his black money rhetoric was meant for pre-election audience,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said at an AICC briefing.

The Narendra Modi government, which had promised to bring back black money stashed by Indians in foreign banks, toed the line of UPA regime by informing the Supreme Court that it cannot disclose such details given by countries with which India has double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA).

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, BJP spearheaded by Narendra Modi had promised to bring back black money kept by Indians in overseas bank and slammed UPA government for not taking effective action and accusing it of shielding the corrupt. After assuming power in May, the Modi government had pledged to fulfil its pre-poll promise.

Elaborating further Jaitley said, as per the DTAA, “the names can only be made public once after investigation, there are disclosures made to court, that is when charges are filed. Till such time when the investigations are on, merely for reasons of propaganda they can’t be made public.”

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Switzerland has agreed to share information on Indians having illicit money in Swiss banks on independent evidence provided in each case to the Alpine nation. Besides, the Swiss government would “confirm the genuineness or otherwise” details of foreign accounts of Indian citizens procured by intelligence agencies, Jaitley said.

Talking to reporters here, the Finance Minister said Switzerland has agreed to share information related to HSBC and Liechestein lists, provided there is independent evidence collected by Indian authorities.

“The Government of India is taking all necessary steps to access tax-related information from foreign governments... Black money stashed abroad will be brought back,” he said.