The reports on the quantum of black money held by Indians in the country and abroad cannot be made public, country's two premier institutes that conducted studies on the ill-gotten wealth on the Finance Ministry's directive have said.
The UPA government had in 2011 asked three institutes - Delhi-based National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), Faridabad - to conduct studies on black money.
The study reports of NIPFP, NCAER and NIFM were received by the Ministry on December 30, 2013; July 18, 2014 and August 21, 2014 respectively.
Replying to an RTI query, NIPFP and NCAER said they were not authorised to share the reports.
"Under the Terms of Reference (ToR) with the Ministry of Finance, we are not authorised to share the report without their concurrence. Such concurrence is not forthcoming and our agreement with the Ministry of Finance prohibits us from disseminating this report," the NIPFP said in reply to the RTI application.
The NCAER, in its response, said: "The primary repository of the report is Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Ministry of Finance" and the matter of sharing it should be dealt by the government.
No response has been received so far from the NIFM, which also conducted a study.
Earlier, the Finance Ministry had declined to share the reports submitted to it by the institutes about three years ago.
"Information is exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (c) of the RTI Act, 2005 as the study reports received from the three institutes are under examination of the government and the same along with the government's response on these reports are yet to be taken to Parliament through the Standing Committee on Finance," the Ministry had said.
The Section bars disclosure of information "which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or State Legislature".
There is at present no official assessment on the quantum of black money in the country and abroad.
"The issue of black money has attracted a lot of public and media attention in the recent past. So far, there are no reliable estimates of black money generated and held within and outside the country," the Finance Ministry had said while ordering the studies in 2011.
The different estimates on the quantum of black money range between USD 500 billion to USD 1,400 billion. A study by Global Financial Integrity estimated the illicit money outflow at USD 462 billion.
The Terms of Reference (ToR) for the studies included assessment or survey of unaccounted income and wealth and profiling the nature of activities engendering money laundering both within and outside the country.
The purpose of study was to identify, among others, important sectors of the economy in which unaccounted money is generated and examine the causes and conditions for it.