The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a Delhi High Court order that had held that the 2016 black money law cannot be allowed to operate with retrospective effect from July 2015 to book and investigate offenders, PTI reported.
A vacation bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra stayed the May 16 order that had also restrained the Income Tax department from taking action against Gautam Khaitan, an accused in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, under the provision of the Black Money Act.
The bench issued a notice to Khaitan and asked him to file his response to the government’s petition against the Delhi High Court order within six weeks.
In its interim order, the Delhi High Court had stayed the Centre’s notification that declared that the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act would take effect retrospectively.
Khaitan had told the High Court that the government’s notification on the law taking retrospective effect was against the powers given by the Act itself, Bar and Bench had reported. However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, had submitted that the High Court erred in its judgement staying the Centre’s notification.
Khaitan has also challenged the Income Tax department’s order of January 22, granting sanction to the police to file a criminal complaint against him under Section 51 of the Act. The accused has said that action is being taken against him for assets which ceased to exist before the black money law came into force.
The Enforcement Directorate had arrested Khaitan on January 26 following an investigation under the Black Money Act. According to the prosecution, Khaitan had deposited nearly Rs. 6,000 crore in offshore accounts. A chargesheet was filed against Khaitan for violating provisions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. Khaitan is currently on bail in the case.
The AgustaWestland helicopter deal, which snowballed into a huge controversy, is related to an agreement signed in 2010 to buy 12 helicopters from the British-Italian firm. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power at the time.