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The Supreme Court Wednesday slammed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for interrogating Hasan Ali, allegedly country’s top tax evader, only in 2011 when the case was registered against him in 2007.

The apex court bench of Justice B.Sudershan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar said, “Case was registered in 2007 and custodial interrogation takes place in 2011. What is the speed? What is going on in this country?”

The observation came in the wake of Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium telling the court that there was no need for setting up Special Investigation Team (SIT) as sought by petitioner Ram Jethmalani.

The court’s indictment of the investigation by the ED came as it reserved its ruling on Jethmalini’s petition seeking a SIT to investigate money laundering by Indian citizens and their stashing away black money in the tax havens.

As Subramanium told the court that setting up of the SIT would not help the investigation but would torpedo the same, Justice Reddy said: “You started investigation only after persistent queries by the court.”

The solicitor general said the present investigation has made significant advances and all offences relating to money laundering were being investigated.

Justice Reddy asked what was the principal objection of the central government to the appointment of someone to monitor the investigation by the multi-disciplinary High Level Committee (HLC).

“There could be changes, addition or deletion, in the composition of HLC. What is the principal objection you have if someone is appointed to monitor the investigation?” Justice Reddy said.

Subramanium said the committee (obvious reference to multi-member monitoring) should be accountable. “We don’t want someone on the top who is not accountable.”

At this Justice Nijjar said, “The person who would be monitoring will give report to this court and we will do the scrutiny. You must take into account the anxiety of the court that the speed and efficiency of the investigation has to be maintained.”

As the solicitor general sought to dispute the figures of black money stashed away in tax havens, Justice Reddy said that the figures were given by the bench and the government has acknowledged it.

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