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Congress seeks apology from PM Modi over black money issue

Congress seeks apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the government tells apex court that it could not disclose the names of people who have allegedly stashed away their ill-gotten money to tax havens

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday sought apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the government told the Supreme Court that it could not disclose the names, received from foreign governments, of people who have allegedly stashed away their ill-gotten money to tax havens.

"If there is the slightest bit of political honesty, the prime minister should apologise to the nation," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the media here, recalling how the Bharatiya Janta Party during its stint in the opposition had taken on the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over the issue.

He said it was unfortunate that the same party which accused the UPA government of not being interested in bringing back black money has formally told the apex court that they are unable to disclose the information they have collected.

He also called upon activists Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev and Kiran Bedi -- all of whom were part of the anti-corruption agitation against the UPA government in the past -- to launch a similar agitation against the BJP-led government.

"Ramdev, Bedi and Hazare should immediately start an unending fast right in front of the prime minister's house. And if they don't do it, you and I are entitled to ask why is one government's inaction different from another government's inaction according to the way they perceive it? That's another kind of hypocrisy and double standard," Singhvi maintained.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra explained that the government's statement to the apex court was due to the fact that it was bound by the confidentiality clause under the double taxation avoidance agreement.

"What the government told the court is based on the clauses of the treaty since the erstwhile Congress government signed a treaty of double taxation avoidance under which names cannot be disclosed," Patra told the media.

The government's stand was made in an application seeking modification of an earlier court order asking it to disclose the names of all such people it had received from the German government.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the application for an urgent hearing before the bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice A.K. Sikri.

The government has said that the names of such account holders against whom the prosecution has been launched could be disclosed as they are in public domain but in case of others, it was bound by the confidentiality clause.

The government has said that such disclosures would be counter-productive for getting information on black money stashed away in tax havens as foreign governments would not share such information in future.

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