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SC to hear Centre’s plea in black money case on Tuesday

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging a Delhi High Court order, which has ruled that the black money law can’t have a retrospective effect, that is, it cannot be applied prior to April 1, 2016, as fixed by Parliament.

Mentioning the matter before a Vacation Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the high court order would have implications on several cases pending before courts. The court will hear the case on Tuesday.

The Delhi High Court passed the order on May 16, preventing the government and the Income Tax Department from initiating any punitive action against advocate Gautam Khaitan under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.

Khaitan, an accused in the VVIP chopper deal scam, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 26 for allegedly depositing money in offshore accounts.

Khaitan challenged his arrest contending the Centre’s notification, which stated the Act would come into force from July 1, 2015, instead of April 1, 2016 (before it became operational), was ultra vires.

He also contended unnecessary action had been initiated against him under the Act for assets that didn’t exist before the law came into force.

The high court queried the Centre on the applicability of the retrospective effect of the Act, from July 2015, till its enactment in April 2016, to take into consideration undisclosed foreign income and assets.

The high court said, “… at this stage, we are prima facie of the considered view that, the official respondents could not have exercised powers granted to them under the provisions of Sections 85 and 86 of the said Act, prior to its enactment itself…”

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