Black money: Jethmalani, others criticise setting up of panel

New Delhi: Senior jurist Ram Jethmalani on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the setting up of a high-level committee to monitor the probe into the black money case was merely a "ruse" and an attempt to pre-empt the formation of an independent panel like SIT.

"The high-level committee set up by the government is merely a ruse and a facade to keep total control over all investigation by bureacrats and officials who are subservient to the politucal executive and cannot take action against them, " senior advocate Anil Divan, appearing for Jethamalani, told a bench comprising justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar.

However, the Bench made it clear that the high-level committee has not got its stamp of approval as it has not passed any order on it.

"We have not passed any order on it. It is still a suggestion," the bench said during the hearing of the PIL filed by Jethmalani and five others, including former Punjab DGP K P S Gill and former Secretary General of Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap who have alleged the government was not taking action to bring back the black money stashed in foreign banks.

Divan alleged that during the last several hearings the government was not agreeing to the appointment of a special investigating team (SIT) and seeking adjournments knowing well that the bench hearing the matter will "break" after the vacation in view of the retirement of the senior judge (Justice Reddy) in early July.

"At the last hearing on April 25 in an effort to pre-empt the formation of an independent high-ranking monitoring group, suddenly a multi-disciplinary committee was formed by the government order on April 22," he said.

"This is a disingenious and clever attempt to derail and render infructous the hearings before this bench in connection with the Special Investigating/Monitoring Team," the senior advocate said.

Divan`s submission evoked protest from Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium who said "such type of insinuation was unacceptable".

"What type of insinuation that we want the bench to break up. This is being said for getting wide publicity and it is unfortunate," he said.

However, Divan continued with his submission and said all these things are done as the government cannot take action against the politicians and spoke about its "inaction" for the last four years.

He referred to the N N Vohra committee report of 1993 which went into the politico-bureacrat-criminal nexus and suggested a nodal agency headed by the Home Secretary for coordinated action in cases involving them.