Faced with a barrage of reports that intelligence and enforcement agencies were being stonewalled by special economic zones (SEZs) in their investigations into suspect units, the government is planning to notify certain agencies that will have unhindered access in executing their duty.
"The move is being considered because of reports that taking the shield of economic autonomy, many SEZs are making it difficult for government intelligence and enforcement agencies to discharge investigative functions by denying easy accessibility," said a senior finance ministry official.
"In most cases, the concerns are related to non-realisation of export proceeds by units operating in SEZs. The departments of revenue and commerce are considering action on the issue," he said.
The SEZ Act 2000 had initially provided that a designated government authority could carry out investigation or search or seizure in the SEZ with permission from the development commissioner - the administrative head in an SEZ.
However, an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) in February 2005 further diluted the rule by deciding that intelligence agencies would be allowed unhindered access to SEZs to perform their mandated functions without intimating the development commissioner.
"Despite the decision of the panel, revenue intelligence agencies are facing difficulties. There is an imperative need to implement the EGoM's decision in letter and spirit," the official said.