"We will not spare anyone," a source from the Special
Investigation Team on black money told Indian media group New
Delhi Television (NDTV).
|The SIT is a new
entry this year
On May 1 2014, the Supreme Court of India appointed former
Supreme Court Justice MB Shah as SIT chairperson. Shah's team
consists of retired judges and regulators, whose mandate is to
track 'black money' that country insiders believe flows out of
India swifter than the Ganges. Formerly in the role was retired
Justice BP Jeevan Reddy.
While campaigning, now-Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised
to crack down on corporations and individuals who shift money
to offshore accounts. On his first day in office on May 26,
Modi tasked the SIT with making good on his campaign promises
by probing the bank accounts of Indian residents abroad.
"A number of complexities would be there, but at present it
is difficult for me to say which complexities I would face. But
I will try to solve them as early as possible," said Shah. In
October 2014 the team publicly named individuals and entities
they believed to have illegally stashed money in Luxembourg and
Germany after conducting preliminary investigations. The
investigations received an abundance of media attention as many
Indians believe it is a crucial step in fighting corruption.
However the case raised questions over whether India could
comply with confidentiality clauses in exchange of information
Some Indian media have questioned the group's commitment to
tracking black money if it means implicating some of India's
most powerful businesses.
"I have never bothered about personalities and nobody has
dared to touch me. It is as good as that. Do not worry about
it," said Shah in an interview earlier this year.
The Supreme Court has also asked the central government to
complete investigations into the Swiss bank accounts of 627
Indian citizens by March of next year.
Former Justice Arijit Pasayat serves as vice-chairman of the
team. The bench includes Chief Justice HL Dattu, Justice
Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Madan B Lokur. The remaining
11 members include an Intelligence Bureau Director, Director of
the Central Bureau of Investigation and Director General
Narcotics Control Bureau, comprising a very intimidating
"The Union of India and where needed, the state governments,
will facilitate the conduct of the investigations in their
fullest measure by the Special Investigation Team and
functioning, by extending all the necessary financial,
material, legal, diplomatic and intelligence resources, whether
such investigations or portions of such investigations occur
inside the country or abroad," stated the team in June.
Modi has insisted his new government will not protect the
interests of big companies over the interests of the people.
The effort of the SIT on black money is a significant step for
the country, though it appears the Indian people may have to
wait until 2015 to see returns on their investment.