The government has come in for sharp criticism from the Supreme Court for its handling of slush funds stashed in foreign bank accounts by industrialists and others.
"It is a pure and simple theft of the national money. We are talking about mind-boggling crime...it's not about treaties," said the court.
The scathing remark came when solicitor general Gopal Subramanium's sought to explain various steps taken by the government under the Double Taxation Avoidance Act.
The case has come up on a petition filed by former law minister Ram Jethmalani and others who want the government to retrieve the black money hoarded in foreign banks.
The government has submitted to the Supreme Court a list containing names of 26 Indians who have maintained accounts in tax haven Liechtenstein's LGT Bank. The government however claims the names should not be made public as it would violate an agreement between India and Germany.
The case will next come up for hearing on 27 January of this month when the government would be asked to explain the reason for withholding the names of the account-holders from the public.
Terming the stashing of ill-gotten money in foreign banks as a 'national plunder', the Supreme Court today asked the government to share all information it had on Indians who have siphoned off their illicit money in tax havens.
The apex court bench of justice B Sudarshan Reddy and justice SS Nijjar pulled up the central government for limiting the petition's scope to the siphoning off black money to Liechtenstein Bank and not providing information on Indian citizens parking their money abroad.