SC reserves order on Centre’s plea in Gautam Khaitan case

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New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on Wednesday reserved order on the Centre’s plea challenging a Delhi High Court order, which ruled that the black money law cannot have a retrospective effect, that is, it cannot be applied prior to April 1, 2016, as fixed by Parliament.

On May 16, the Delhi High Court had passed the order preventing the government and the Income Tax (I-T) Department from initiating any punitive measure against businessman Gautam Khaitan under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.

The apex court said on Wednesday that it has to give some prima facie opinion, otherwise the High Court order could be used in other matters.

However, the Supreme Court has also indicated that, prima facie, it will set aside the Delhi High Court order that restrained action against the AgustaWestland scam-accused Khaitan under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act.

The court said that trial and proceedings against Khaitan should continue as per law.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the offence alleged against Khaitan is a continuing offence.

Mehta also that Khaitan had never disclosed his foreign income and assets despite the general one-time window provided by the government for people to make voluntary disclosure of their foreign income and assets.

The high court had on May 16 restrained the Centre and the I-T Department from taking any action against Khaitan.

The Supreme Court vacation bench, headed by Justice Mishra and including Justice M.R. Shah, had issued a notice to Khaitan asking him to reply within six weeks.

In May, the Centre had moved the Supreme Court challenging a Delhi High Court order, which ruled the black money law cannot have a retrospective effect prior to April 1, 2016, as fixed by Parliament.

On May 16, the Delhi High Court passed the order preventing the government and the Income Tax department from initiating any punitive measure against Khaitan.

Challenging his arrest, Khaitan had submitted before the court that the Act on black money was notified by the Centre before the Act itself became operational.

The Enforcement Directorate arrested Khaitan on January 26 for allegedly depositing money in offshore accounts.

The High Court had said: “… at this stage we are prima facie of the considered view that, the official respondents could not have exercised powers granted to it under the provisions of Sections 85 and 86 of the said Act, prior to the enactment itself coming into force, in terms of the provisions of sub-Section (3) of Section 1 of the said Act.”

The High Court had queried the Centre on the retrospective applicability from July 2015 of the black money law enacted in April 2016 to take into consideration undisclosed foreign income and assets.

Khaitan had informed the court that under the Act unnecessary action has been initiated against him for assets which did not exist before the law came into force.

–IANS

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