Black money: SIT seeks ban on keeping over Rs15 lakh in cash

21 January 2015

Indians should be banned from keeping more than Rs15 lakh of cash in their homes, says the special investigation team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court on 'black' money stashed abroad by Indians.

The SIT, headed by retired judges M B Shah and Arijit Pasayat as chairman and vice chairman and also comprising senior bureaucrats, was formed to monitor the government on the vexed issue.

The panel further suggested on Tuesday that the government should change the existing laws so that officials can seize the properties and assets of tax evaders equivalent to the amount of black money they have found stashed abroad.

The Supreme Court has been monitoring the government's attempts to identify and penalize Indians for black money since 2009, based on a petition by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had made the recovery of black money from abroad a major promise of its campaign for last year's national election, but after taking office, the government has acknowledged that tax treaties with countries like Switzerland impose restrictions on what sort of information it can access about foreign bank accounts.

In November, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that 250 Indians had admitted to holding an account at HSBC in Geneva. Last year, France gave India a list of nearly 600 citizens with accounts at HSBC in Geneva based on data leaked by a bank employee. 

The Supreme Court has said that by the end of March, each of the people on the list should be investigated to determine if they are guilty of holding black money.

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