New Delhi: Government on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking "recall" and "modification" of its order for setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising its retired judges to take over the probe into all blackmoney cases contending it has ventured into the domain of the executive.

The application, which said the SIT was formed without being prayed, raised ten main grounds among others for recall of the order in which it has been pulled up for the "laggardly pace" in investigations into the issue of blackmoney stashed abroad.

The application, filed through the Revenue Secretary, contended the July 4 order appointing former judges – Justices B P Jeevan Reddy and M B Shah as chairman and vice-chairman of SIT was "without jurisdiction" and against the well- established doctrine of seperation of power.

Maintaining that a bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy (since retired) and S S Nijjar has impinged upon the domain entrusted to the executive, it said the order is "contrary to the settled legal princple that the function of the court is to see that the lawful authority is duly exercised by the executive but not to take over itself the task entrusted to the executive."

"It impinges upon the well settled principle that courts do not interfere with the economic policy which is the domain of the Executive and that it is not the function of the court to sit in judgement over matters of ecnomic policy, which must necessarily be left to the expert bodies," it said.

The government argued courts are neither concerned with the judicial review of the economic policy nor it was required for them to substitute their views on matters which fall within the ambit of the executive.

"That the judicial review is not concerned with the matters of economic policy as the courts do not substitute their views and judgement for that of the executive as regards the matters which fall within the domain/province of the executive. It is respectfully submitted that the courts do not supplant the views of experts by its own views," the application said.

While assailing the order for setting up of SIT and making adverse remarks, the government contended the direction will eliminate and denude the constitutional responsibility of the executive.

"That the said order has the effect of completely eliminating the role and denuding the constitutional responsibility of the executive which itself is answerable to Parliament and it is further respectfully submitted that it directly interferes with the functions and obligations of the executive, more particularly, since it is ordered that SIT will report directly to the Supreme Court, therefore excluding the executive and consequently Parliament also," it said. The application said the apex court has passed the directions without "completely" hearing Centre's stand and many of the observations proceed on an incorrect factual basis and comments were made against entities and persons who were not even parties to the petition and as such runs contrary to the principles of natural justice.

"The observations rendered in the said order, it is respectfully submitted, have been expressed in absence of any contention and/or arguments raised, urged, heard and debated in court," the application said. "To the extent the order proceeds on admission, concession, statements and acknowledgements attributed to the counsel appearing for Union of India, it is humbly and respectfully pointed out that such concession, statements and acknowledgements do not appear to have been made and therefore, the order proceeds on incorrect factual basis," it said.

The government also maintained that the order which spoke about the treaty making power of sovereign countries impinges upon the legal and constitutional principles that such treaties are not subject to review of courts.

President for fighting blackmoney war

Amid growing concern over the problem of black money, President Pratibha Patil on Friday said the war against the menace should be fought through domestic and cross-border measures.

The President, while addressing the concluding ceremony of celebrations for 150 years of the Income Tax Department, also made a strong case for tightening laws to book tax evaders.

"The war against black money has to be addressed both domestically and through cross border measures," she said, adding the efforts to enhance global cooperation need to
continue.

"There has to be continued (cooperation) through appropriate agreement on tax information exchange, and on mutual cooperation between countries to track down evaders taking shelter in other jurisdictions", she said.

On the domestic front, Patil said: "Fostering of an environment of voluntary compliance will help. There is also need for putting in place measures, through laws and procedures, to ensure that recalcitrant tax evaders are brought to book".

It may be recalled the government has taken various initiatives to deal with the menace of black money and has set up several committees to ascertain the extent of black money and suggest measures to tighten tax laws.

On the international front, the government has been taking a pro-active role at global forums especially G-20, revising bilateral tax treaties and signing new pacts with tax havens or low tax jurisdictions.

Agencies