Process of law to tackle blackmoney: Pranab

New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday made it clear that due process of law will be followed in tackling cases of blackmoney stashed abroad and alleged tax evader Hassan Ali Khan will not be allowed to escape from the country.

"Hassan Ali has not been allowed to leave the country.

Supreme Court directions in this regard will be observed," he said during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha.

Mukherjee said he cannot "hang anyone" merely on the basis of allegations and due process of the law was being followed in dealing with cases of blackmoney.

However, it appeared that Mukherjee`s reply was not heard clearly and members from the BJP and the Left parties stood up demanding an answer from the Finance Minister.

As members demanded that government make public the names of persons who have stashed blackmoney in foreign banks, Mukherjee lost his cool and retorted that a department of his ministry has also raided a CPI(M) leader. "But I cannot hang her. The due process of law has to be followed," he said.

These words from Mukherjee angered the members of Left parties who trooped into the Well demanding an apology from the Minister. CPI(M) members and Mukherjee had a heated exchange.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who was sitting next to Mukherjee, also appeared surprised at the remarks and after a gentle nudge from Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal the Finance Minister took his seat.

At this point, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House briefly.

After the House re-assembled, Mukherjee said the Income Tax Department was pursuing the prosecution of Hassan Ali, whom it had earlier described as the leading tax defaulter of the country.

Mukherjee said India and Switzerland had signed last year an amendment to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement to specifically provide for exchange of banking information as well as information without domestic interest.

When the agreement comes into force, India would be able to get banking information from Switzerland in specific cases for any period beginning April 1, 2011, he said.

The Minister said the details of individual tax evaders received from LGT Bank have been handed over to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover and the same can be made public if the Court so desires.

However, he said, this would be against the terms of agreement under which the information has been received by the Government from foreign banks.

The information could be made public only after completion of the prosecution process against individuals, Mukherjee said.