The Centre on Monday disclosed before the Supreme Court eight more names including that of Pradip Burman, one of Dabur India promoters, a bullion trader and Goa miners against whom it has started prosecution for allegedly stashing blackmoney in foreign banks.
Rajkot-based bullion trader Pankaj Chimanlal Lodhya and Goa-based mining company Timblo Private Limited and its five Directors were among the names that figured in the list which was filed in the Supreme Court by the government.
The affidavit, filed days after the government came under attack from political rivals that it was chary of revealing names, said that these names have been received from French authorities and other countries.
Promising to disclose more names of black money holders who have come under its scanner, the government said that all foreign bank accounts cannot be termed as “illegal”.
While Burman’s name was received from French authorities the names of Lodhia and others have been received from “other countries”.
Shortly after the disclosure in the Supreme Court, Dabur India promoter family, Burmans said the account complied with all legal requirements.
“We wish to state that this account was opened when he (Pradip) was an NRI, and was legally allowed to open this account,” a Dabur spokesperson said in a statement.
Lodhiya denied having a Swiss bank account. “We have already declared in the income tax and there is nothing…we don’t have any Swiss account that is the only thing which I can say,” he said.
Radha Timbo declined to comment on her name being mentioned in the affidavit, saying she has to first study it before commenting.
The government in its 10-page affidavit submitted that it cannot disclose all the information and names of account holders in overseas banks, received from foreign countries, unless there is a “prima facie” evidence of wrongdoing for launching prosecution for tax evasion.
“The government is committed to disclose names of persons holding illegal money abroad. However, every account held by an Indian in a foreign country may not be illegal and the fundamental right of citizens to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution cannot be ignored and has been recognised by this court,” it said, adding the names and information/ documents cannot be disclosed even under a proceedings under Article 32(1) of the Constitution.
It submitted the apex court to clarify its earlier order directing it to reveal even the names of foreign bank account holders against whom no evidence was found for stashing black money saying the government would have a problem entering into tax agreements with other countries.
“There is absolutely no intention on the part of the government to withhold information, including names of persons who have stashed black money abroad, but only to seek certain clarification that will enable the government to enter into agreements with other countries under which information relating to unaccounted money lying abroad can be obtained,” it said.
“The information received under these tax treaties and agreements will be disclosed after following the due process of law, in all cases where evasion of tax is established. The intention of the present government is clear and unambiguous.
“The government is keen to unearth black money held abroad and for that purpose it will use all diplomatic and legal means and also all investigating agencies to obtain information that can assist in such unearthing,” the affidavit said.