New Delhi: The central government on Monday disclosed names of three people, including industrialist Pradeep Burman, who are holding bank accounts in foreign countries and are now under the lens of Income Tax authorities.
The names are: Pradeep Burman, bullion-trader Pankaj Chimanlal Lodhiya, and mining company Timblo Private Limited and its directors Radha Satish Timblo, Chetan S. Timblo, Rohan S. Timblo, Anna C. Timblo and Malika R. Timblo.
The affidavit filed by the government says that the name of Pradeep Burman, a member of the promoter family of Dabur India, was received from French authorities and that of Pankaj Chimanlal Lodhiya, and Timblo Private Limited and its directors Radha Satish Timblo, Chetan S.Timblo, Rohan S. Timblo, Anna C. Timblo and Malika R. Timblo from other countries.
The government May 1, 2014, has already disclosed 18 names associated with 12 trusts holding account in LGT Bank in Liechtenstein that were received by it March 2009 from the German tax authorities.
The government in an affidavit Monday said: "The intention of the present government is clear and unambiguous. The government is keen to unearth the black money held abroad and for that purpose it will use all diplomatic and legal means and also all investigative agencies to obtain information that can assist in such unearthing."
The government said while seeking clarification that it could hold back the information it got under the tax treaties and agreements with other countries, including the names of the people who have stashed black money abroad, on account of confidentiality clause and the right to privacy and the same could be disclosed only after evasion of tax by them is established and prosecution has been launched in a competent court.
"One of the first acts of the present government after it was formed May 26, 2014, was to constitute a Special Investigation Team May 29, 2014, as directed by the court," the affidavit said.
Referring to the mandate of the apex court verdict of July 4, 2011, it added: "In accordance with this mandate, a complete list of the cases where information has been received from German and French governments, along with updated status of the action taken by the Income-Tax department, was submitted by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to the SIT 27 June, 2014."
Holding that not all the accounts held abroad might be illegal, it said: "Government is committed to disclose the names of the 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 the same has been recognised by the apex court by its July 4, 2011, verdict.
The government said that even the Supreme Court has held that the government cannot "compel citizens to reveal, or itself reveal details to public at large unless the State itself, through properly conducted investigations has been able to establish the prima facie grounds to accuse the individuals of wrong doings".
Thus, the affidavit said, "the names and information/documents cannot be disclosed even during proceedings...unless there is a prima facie evidence of wrong doing which can be based on a complaint/prosecution filed in a competent court for tax evasion".
The government application sought the modification of the court's earlier order directing it to disclose all the names of the Indian citizens that it had received from German tax authorities in March 2009 who were holding accounts in LGT Bank in Liechtenstein.