SC issues notice to 6 govt agencies on tax information pacts

SC issues notice to 6 govt agencies on tax information pacts

New Delhi: The Supreme Court bench hearing the black money case issued notices to 6 economic and public agencies on Thursday seeking a response on why the Indian government had not yet ratified a 2003 United Nations Convention on Corruption to combat money laundering and sharing information with governments for the prosecution of those involved.

Notices will be served on the Home Ministry, the Reserve Bank of India, the Central Vigilance Commission, the Enforcement Directorate, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and Central Board of Direct Taxes to respond to the court within four weeks from today.

The bench issued notices after the petitioners in the public interest litigation (PIL) submitted that the government had avoided ratifying the convention as it would make them subject to exposure of tax-related information.

The petitioners also submitted that the government has not ratified tax information exchange agreements with nations suspected to be tax havens, thereby preventing the government from accessing crucial data to carry out investigations.

And the petitioners also contended that the government had wrongly approached the German government under the double tax avoidance agreement (DTAA), since the German government had voluntarily stated that it would share the information free of charge with any government, regardless of a DTAA.

The court will next hear the matter on 3 February, before which the government will file a detailed affidavit on the investigations it said was currently undertaking on the list of 26 persons who have accounts in Liechtenstein’s LGT Bank, amongst other aspects.