India

SC asks government if separate SIT needed to probe Panama papers

New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Central government to consider whether there was a necessity to set up a separate SIT to investigate the Panama Papers, currently being probed by a Multi-Agency Group (MAG).

A bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar gave the government four weeks time to respond whether there was necessity of setting up a SIT to probe Panama Papers naming a number of Indian nationals having off-shore accounts.

The court’s order came after the government submitted six reports on investigation by the MAG in a sealed cover. Having perused the reports, the court directed the same be kept back in the sealed cover.

The MAG that was constituted to investigate Panama papers consists of officials of the Central Board Of Direct Taxes, the Reserve Bank of India, the Enforcement Directorate and Financial Intelligence Unit. The CBDT’s Member (Investigation) is its convenor.

The MAG, also known as SIT on black money, was set up to investigate and bring the money stashed overseas and is headed by former apex court judge Justice M.B.Shah as Chairman and another former top court judge Justice Arijit Pasayat is its Vice-Chairman.

In the last hearing of the matter on March 7, the court had asked the government to file all the six reports in a sealed cover.

The court had said that after perusing the reports, it would consider whether there would be a necessity of a separate SIT to look into these issues and for a fair and appropriate inquiry so that necessary action could be taken against those who had violated the law.

The court directed the next hearing of the matter on July 2, as Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha told the court that the investigation was on and it was going on a fast pace.

The top court had on May 9, 2016, issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation ona PIL seeking probe against the people named in the Panama Papers.

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