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Black money:SC reserves order on SIT set-up

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today reserved its orders on the maintainability of the Centre`s plea for recall of its July 4 order appointing an SIT to probe the black money issue.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and S S Nijjar said it would pass appropriate orders on the maintainability plea on September 20.

Earlier, resuming the arguments, senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for the petitioners Ram Jethmalani and others, said the Centre`s plea should be dismissed as the recall application "is, in fact, an appeal on merits, disguised as an application for modification and is an abuse of the process to defeat the public interest".

Divan submitted that the order constituting the SIT was passed by the apex court after hearing detailed arguments for several days.

Citing the apex court`s earlier directions on forming SITs in cases relating to post-Godhra riots and CBI investigations in various matters, Divan argued that appointment of the two Supreme Court judges to head the SIT would only lend credibility to the probe.

The counsel submitted that the Centre cannot oppose it as it did not violate its fundamental rights and the principle of natural justice was observed by hearing the government before passing the impugned order.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati, in his brief intervention, said the order ought to be recalled as the Centre was proceeding in the right direction in unearthing the black money allegedly stashed away in foreign tax havens.

The Centre had earlier told the bench that the SIT set up by the apex court to probe and unearth black money needs to be scrapped as the investigating agency cannot function like a "super power."

Vahanvati had said the Government had "very serious" reservations on the court`s directions which had also cast aspersions on sincerity of the Government in tackling the black money menace.

Divan had sought dismissal of the Centre`s application and had said the apex court had rightly constituted the SIT as even the Centre had at that time admitted that the investigations were not proceeding in the right direction.

The bench had pointed out that the SIT was initially constituted by the Centre and the apex court had merely incorporated the names of retired SC judges, justices B P Jeevan Reddy and M B Shah.

The government, in its application, had also raised objections to the apex court remarks criticising the Cenrte`s handling of black money cases.

The court had made the critical observations while appointing its former judges – justices Reddy and Shah, as chairman and vice-chairman of the 13-member SIT into which the Director of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) too had been inducted.

The Centre, in its application for recall of the Court`s July 4 order had contended that the SIT was formed without being prayed for and has questioned the Court remarks that investigations into the issue of black money stashed abroad was moving at a "laggardly pace".

The bench had in its order said the money stashed away reveal the degree of "softness of the State".

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