2543 Sun 25 Feb 2018 LESSON
the Modis (Murderers of democratic Institutions) are Hiding in Foreign
Countries after hiding Information About Black Money Inside a Black
Hole and are leading luxurious lives.
The SIT on black money must be opened to greater public scrutiny. Credit: Reuters
During his reply on the motion of thanks to the address of the
president of India in the Lok Sabha on February 7, 2018, Modi compared
his efforts to curb corruption and flush out black money with the
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan – the nation-wide mission launched to clean up
cities, towns, villages and roads, build community toilets and end the
practice of open defecation. He drew attention once again to his
emphasis on ‘transparency in governance’.
The Ministry of Finance
and one national public finance institute under its control have both
refused to reveal research reports on black money in the domestic sector
under The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act).
interestingly, the special investigation team (SIT) on black money has
claimed that it does not have a copy of the study reports on the nature
and volume of black money in India prepared by at least three academic
Neither the finance ministry nor the National
Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), which also responded to
the same information request, are on the same page as to why this report
cannot be made public. While the ministry is claiming parliamentary
privilege over these reports, NIPFP is taking refuge under a
confidentiality agreement it signed with the finance ministry.
Response of the black money SIT
In October 2017, around the 12th anniversary of the RTI Act, the
Central Information Commission (CIC) declared, in response to my appeal,
that the SIT on black money was a public authority under the RTI Act.
In December, I submitted another RTI application to the SIT, seeking
copies of all study reports prepared by the NIPFP, the National Council
of Applied Economic Research and the National Institute of Financial
Management “on the subject of ‘quantum of black money’ and received by
the SIT office till date”. I also asked for the “total number of reports
submitted by the SIT to the Supreme Court till date, along with their
The central public information officer (CPIO) of the SIT
replied that his office did not have any of the study reports on black
money prepared by the NIPFP, NCAER and NIFM (see page 5 of the document
below). So, he transferred that portion of the RTI application to these
three institutes. As regards queries four and five of my RTI
application, the CPIO merely replied that five reports on black money
had been submitted to the Supreme Court of India in an ongoing case.
He conveniently did not respond to the request for a copy of these
reports. So it was neither rejection of the request nor intention to
disclose from the office of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is
one of the constituting elements of the SIT (see pages 5-6 of the
document below). Incidentally, the ED is an exempt organisation under
Section 24 of the RTI Act. However, the exemption does not extend to
information pertaining to allegations of corruption or human rights
Two days after Modi compared his efforts to flush out
black money with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the investigation wing-I of
the department of revenue claimed that the academic study reports on
black money submitted by NIPFP, NCAER and NIFM were covered by
parliamentary privilege under Section 8(1)(c) of the RTI Act and hence
could not be disclosed (see page 7 of the document below).
regards the SIT reports submitted to the apex court, the CPIO claimed
that his office did not have a copy and transferred that portion of the
RTI application back to the CPIO of the SIT.
Apart from the SIT, I
sent queries related to unearthing black money to NIPFP and two other
public authorities and received different replies from each. The RTI
application and the replies received are in the attachment.