Justice M B Shah, the head of Special Investigation Team on black money, has asked the Income-Tax department to provide all information — regarding bank accounts and other assets owned by Indians overseas — received from agencies abroad during the last 10 years, according to sources. The second meeting of the SIT is scheduled for June 20.
Sources said that the Income-Tax department, which was reluctant to share information, citing confidentiality agreement between various countries with which it has signed tax treaties, was reportedly reminded by Shah that “this is a Supreme Court committee. You won’t share information with the Supreme Court?”.
Among other discussions that took place during the first SIT meeting on Monday, two SC judges — Shah and Arijit Pasayat — asked heads of agencies part of the SIT to inform the team about ongoing cases which have substantial black money implications.
On Monday, the I-T department gave a presentation of various mechanisms it had in place for gathering information on black money. The presentation had details about 83 double taxation treaties and 20 limited tax treaties it had entered with various countries.]
Both the I-T department and the previous UPA government have consistently maintained that the list of tax defaulters and tax evaders that came through tax treaties cannot be shared with third parties. In April, while hearing a petition on black money, the SC had observed that the government had committed “gross contempt of court” by not disclosing the names of account holders in Lichtenstein.
Under the tax treaties, information submitted is privileged and cannot be revealed to any third person and will be used for tax purposes only.
I-T department receives information from abroad on specific request citing ongoing case on tax default, information shared by agencies on suspicious transactions of people of Indian origin and third party sources like banks and NGOs.
Despite repeated attempts, Shah did not respond to text messages and telephone calls.