New Delhi: The Supreme Court wants the Centre to explain why no action has been taken against India's biggest tax defaulter and alleged hawala operator Hasan Ali Khan so far. A bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy and SS Nijjar asked why Ali and other alleged black money launderers have not been interrogated under supervision of the Supreme Court.
The court castigated the government for failing to interrogate Khan and other alleged offenders despite having sufficient material in the possession of investigators.
Khan has been grilled for five hours by the Income Tax Department after it levied Rs 40,000 crore as fine for nonpayment of dues.
But the whereabouts of Khan are not known now. He is suspected to have parked more than $8 billion with a bank in Switzerland.
"There are instances when minor offenders are shot down for violating Section 144 CrPC, but you don't take any action against these people. We are very sorry. All these people are now free," the bench remarked expressing its dismay.
When Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium tried to make certain submissions, the bench virtually snubbed him, saying, "What the hell is going on in this country?"
It then said it was very unfortunate that the three key officials of the Enforcement Directorate investigating the black money scandal have been abruptly transferred midway into the investigation.
Coming down heavily on the Centre for failing to crack the whip on black money hoarders, the apex court also ordered the reinstatement of three key Enforcement Directorate officials allegedly transferred midway into the probe in a case of foreign exchange law violation by Khan.
The two-judge bench also indicated that if the government failed to act, it would be compelled to appoint a special officer for supervising the probe against the offenders.
The bench granted time till Tuesday to the Centre to file its response failing which it said the court would be constrained to pass necessary orders.
The apex court had on February 10, while hearing a petition by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani and some former bureaucrats on the issue of black money of Indians stashed abroad and its repatriation, had asked the government to ensure that Khan does not leave the country.
(With inputs from PTI)