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Black money: SC asks to complete tax proceedings against account holders soon

Black money: SC asks to complete tax proceedings against account holders soon

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the central government to ensure that income tax proceedings against those holding overseas accounts are completed by March 31, 2015 - the extended date - and are not time-barred.

The bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu said it was confident that the income tax proceedings would be completed on or before March 31.

The court said that if tax proceedings are not completed before March 31, the government should pass legislation or order to address the situation.

The court noted the statement by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the government was aware of it and would take care of it.

Addressing the apprehensions expressed by counsel Anil Divan who appeared for petitioner Ram Jethmalani, Rohatgi told the court: "We make a statement that nothing will be time barred. In case, it reaches a point of (income tax proceedings) getting time barred, we will deal with it."

Seeking extension of the limitation period under the Income Tax Act, Divan told the court that income tax proceedings against account holders would get time barred, looking at the manner things were going on.

In the last hearing Oct 29, the Centre gave the court the names of 627 people holding accounts in HSBC Bank in Geneva - also known as stolen data - that were revealed to India by the French government.

The court was told that half of these account holders were Indian residents and the other half Non-Resident Indians. These accounts pertain up to 2006.

The court, in the last hearing, was told that the Income Tax Act has been amended to extend the limitation period up to March 31 for recovering taxes from these account holders.

Under the earlier provision, a limitation period for recovery of taxes was six years, which in these cases came to an end in 2012.

Jethmalani sought that he be provided with the copy of the correspondence the Indian government had with the French government for getting the 627 names.

Divan told the court he was not seeking information that was confidential and was being held back by the government.

The court asked Jethmalani to approach the Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by chairman Justice M.B. Shah and vice chairman Justice Arijit Pasayat, saying it would pass an appropriate order on his application.

The court said the eminent jurist could also approach the SIT for seeking a status report filed by the investigation team before the apex court Oct 29.

Divan told the court that the papers were furnished to them by the government in pursuance to the court's earlier order were blacked out many places.

Divan told the court that this was not what the court had ordered.

"Today, I have found a lot of allegations. Our allegation is that there is a lot of cover-up. We have alleged manipulations and fabrication even way back in 2011," Divan told the court, pointing to blacking out of some portions of papers given to petitioner Ram Jethmalani.

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