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Nothing to see here: Centre suggests SC could totally stop monitoring lethargic black money probe now

Huh, black money? What black money? Where?
Huh, black money? What black money? Where?

In a revelation which may shock many, the Solicitor General, Ranjit Kumar told the Supreme Court’s three-Judge bench hearing the black money investigation case this afternoon at Court No 2, that nothing survived in this case, and the court could dispose it of.

His statement was immediately contested by the senior counsel for the Special Investigation Team, Dushyant Dave.

The SIT was set up by the Government, under the direction of the court. Dave asked the bench to continue to monitor the case. The bench, headed by Justices Anil R Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and Adarsh Kumar Goel, agreed with Dave, and said it would not dispose of the case.

The SG, then hastened to add that he was not saying that the SIT should be disbanded or wound up, but was only suggesting that nothing survived in the case, as the Government was taking action, on the SIT’s recommendations, and has enacted the Black Money Act. “Whatever the problem earlier, it has been redressed”, the SG told the bench.

Today’s hearing was the first hearing after the bench was reconstituted by the CJI, Justice TS Thakur, and therefore, the bench wanted to familiarise itself with the issues. Besides, the petitioner in the case, Ram Jethmalani and his senior counsel, Anil Divan were not present, but Balaji Srinivasan, counsel in the matter was present.

Dushyant Dave expressed his disappointment that the Supreme Court was not taking its monitoring role seriously. The SIT, he said, submitted five reports to it in sealed covers, but the court had no patience to go through them and apply its mind, he lamented. “We are entirely in your hands”, he told the bench, as the Government’s plea to discontinue monitoring of SIT, would mean the end of the probe, he implicitly suggested.

When the Anil Dave bench wanted to adjourn the next hearing of the case after the vacation, Dave pleaded to schedule a hearing before the vacation, so that the bench would get an opportunity to apply its mind.

“The issue of black money is hanging fire, and affecting the whole economy”, Dave told the bench in an effort to persuade the bench to understand the seriousness of early hearing.

The SG again said the Government was taking action.

The bench then agreed to get the matter listed again at 2 pm on 11 May.

Earlier, the bench asked the intervention application filed by senior advocate, Indira Jaising, on behalf of journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, to investigate the Bank of Baroda scam, to be referred to the SIT, for investigation, to which Dave agreed.

Photo by Dan Brickley

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