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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there is “no instant solution” to bring back black money stashed in foreign banks and that information with government cannot be made public due to treaty obligations.

“There is no instant solution to bring back what is called black money. We have got some information and that has been provided to us for use in the collection of due taxes,” he said.

His comments came close on the heels of the Supreme Court pulling up the government for withholding information on black money stashed in foreign banks, saying it is not just limited to tax evasion but a “mind boggling crime” amounting to “theft” and “plunder” of national wealth having security ramifications.

Noting that he was not aware of what the apex court has said, Singh said “we cannot use the information for any other purposes and that information cannot be made public” as the country cannot violate the obligations under international treaties.

The apex court’s observation came while hearing a petition filed by noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who along with some retired bureaucrats and police officers, approached it seeking directions to the government to take steps to bring black money to the tune of one trillion dollars stashed in foreign bank back to the country.

The Centre’s contention before the court is that it was case of tax evasion and it cannot make public the names of Indian account holders.

The government had said earlier that it is at an ‘advanced stage’ of inking Tax Information Exchange Treaties with some countries, a move that will help speed up its efforts to trace black money stashed in foreign banks and help check tax evasion.

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April 2024