It could have been easier for the government to disclose the names of persons having accounts in foreign banks had it implemented the United Nations Double Taxation Convention. The UN convention prescribes re-negotiating Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) in tune with domestic laws and the process to disclose the names.
India is not a signatory to this UN convention.
The Centre on Wednesday gave a list of 627 persons having bank accounts in foreign countries in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court on the direction of the apex court.
The Centre was earlier reluctant to provide the information citing secrecy clause in the DTAAs it had signed with the countries from where the information was received.
The UN convention that provides a model framework for DTAAs had gone a step further to help the developing countries in tracking black money deposited in the developed world. It suggested the member countries frame national law to protect their interests and ensure the confidentiality clause does not come in the way of seeking information.
The convention prescribes the methodology for making the name of the persons holding bank accounts in foreign countries through a court of law.
The Centre has disclosed only three names so far against whom income tax department proceedings have been initiated. Names of other foreign bank account holders have not been disclosed despite some of the information being revealed about a decade ago.
Venkatesh Nayak, a transparency campaigner with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, wants the NDA government to meet its election promise of disclosing the name of black money account holders and re-negotiate the DTAAs on the secrecy clause.