The Supreme Court today prodded a reluctant government to bring out details of the billions of dollars in unaccounted money stashed away by Indian citizens in bank accounts in overseas tax havens.
The court's direction comes close on the heels of union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee stating that legal constraints are blocking the government's move to trace billions of dollars originating from arms deals, drug trafficking and smuggling that are stashed away in bank accounts overseas.
Accusing the government of being reluctant to publish details about the people holding billions of dollars in unaccounted wealth in overseas bank deposits, a bench comprising justices B Sudarshan Reddy and S S Nijjar directed the government to file its response by Thursday next.
The Supreme Court asked the government as to what action it had taken against individuals and firms having secret foreign accounts.
While estimates on the amount of money deposited illegally in overseas banks by Indians vary from $500 billion to $1.4 trillion, the Supreme Court said the government has a duty to explain it to law-abiding citizens.
"You know the names, where the money is lying?… What are the sources of the money? Where has the money come from? Still you are talking about double taxation issue," the court observed.