Panama papers case: Supreme Court asks Centre to file six reports of Multi-Agency Group

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to place before it in a sealed cover all the six reports of the Multi-Agency Group constituted by the government to probe the Panama papers case.

Published: 07th March 2017 02:42 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th March 2017 09:20 PM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to submit all six reports of the multi-agency group (MAG) constituted by the government to probe the Panama papers case.

A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra was told by the Centre that MAG is ready with its 6th report on the ongoing investigation.

“We direct the Union of India to file all six reports in a sealed cover within four weeks,” the bench said while slating the hearing for April 18.

MAG had been constituted by Centre and has officers of the Central Board of Direct Taxes(CBDT), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Enforcement Directorate and Financial Intelligence Unit to investigate the Panama case.

During the hearing, petitioner advocate M L Sharma said the report should also be given to him so that he can argue the matter further.

However, appearing for Centre, Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar told the court that the bench should first go through reports of the MAG and thereafter decide whether it could be shared with the petitioner or not.

To this, the bench said, "How can you say that they are not doing it (probe)? They have said they are investigating the matter and when a stand is taken by respondents (Centre, RBI and others) that they are investigating, how can we say anything at this stage?"

Five reports have already been submitted by MAG to the apex court-appointed Special Investigation Team on black money which is led by Justice (retd) M B Shah, and in a sealed cover to a Supreme Court bench hearing the black money case.

The PIL had sought a court-monitored CBI probe into the Panama papers leak which contained an unprecedented amount of information, including more than 11 million documents covering 2,10,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions with each transaction spanned different jurisdictions and may involve multiple entities and individuals.

The Centre had on October 3, 2016 informed the court that Rs 8,186 crore, illegally kept in offshore banks by Indians, has been brought under tax ambit despite constraints like non-sharing of information by Swiss authorities.

The Department of Economic Affairs of the Finance Ministry had said "an undisclosed income of Rs 8,186 crore (including protective assessment of Rs 1,485 crore) has been brought to tax, on account of deposits made in unreported foreign bank accounts".

Earlier, the Centre had also said that about Rs 1,282 crore has been levied in 159 cases pertaining to concealment of tax due to the government.

"So far 164 prosecution complaints have been filed in 75 cases. The apex court-appointed SIT on black money has been kept updated on the progress in these investigations," it had said. The Finance Ministry, however, had refused to respond to the allegations.

It had said the issue related to SEBI which was the competent authority in this regard.

The ministry had also opposed the contention raised in the PIL that re-appointment of U K Sinha as SEBI chief was illegal and hence should be quashed.

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