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The Supreme Court today set aside the decision of the Delhi High Court to stay proceedings against lawyer Gautam Khaitan under the Black Money Act.
The Delhi High Court has now been directed by the Supreme Court to decide the matter afresh.
The judgment was rendered by a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah, and BR Gavai in a petition filed by the Centre against the decision of the Delhi High Court to stay the proceedings against Gautam Khaitan under the Black Money Act, 2016.
In May this year, the Delhi High Court had stayed the proceedings against Khaitan on the ground that there cannot be retrospective applicability of provisions of the Act. The only question for consideration before the Supreme Court was whether the High Court was justified in staying the proceedings against Khaitan on the grounds of retrospective applicability or not.
The Court, in its judgment has noted that while the Act itself provides that the Act shall come into force from July 2015, the assessment year for consideration in the present case was, in any case, the financial year ending on March 31, 2019.
” subsection (3) of Section 1 of the Black Money Act, itself provides that save as otherwise provided in this Act, it shall come into force on 1st day of July, 2015.
… in the factual scenario of the present case, it would reveal, that the assessment year in consideration was 20192020 and the previous year relevant to the assessment year was the year ending on 31.03.2019. “
Khaitan, who is also an accused in the AgustaWestland scam, had assailed several sections of the Act before the High Court and had also claimed that the government’s notification that declared the date of enforcement of the Black Money Act as July 1, 2015 was ultra vires the Act itself.
He had also submitted in the High Court that the amendment to Section 1(3) of the Act to make it come into force from July 1, 2015, instead of April 1, 2016, was done in exercise of power under Section 86 of the Act. Since Section 86 was yet to be in operation, the Centre could not have exercised power under it.
The Delhi High Court held that the Centre could not, prior to the Act coming into force, alter the date on which the enactment came into force by exercising the powers under the Act.
This order was challenged before the Supreme Court in May this year before the Vacation Bench. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, had told the Court that the decision of the High Court would impact the pending cases under the Act. The Court then agreed to hear the case and went on to issue notice to Khaitan who was represented by Senior Advocate PV Kapur.
[Read the Judgment]