The first report of the special investigative team (SIT) on black money has sought changes in income tax return forms whereby taxpayers would be required to give details of their foreign bank accounts or foreign trips undertaken by them.
“The SIT has also sought modifications in the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to make it a part of criminal law rather than civil law as it currently is,” government sources familiar with the report, submitted to Supreme Court on Wednesday, told HT.
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Another law the SIT wants strengthened is the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, giving the Enforcement Directorate (ED) powers to attach properties acquired overseas by Indian citizens if found guilty of hawala transactions.
“Amending FEMA to bring it under the criminal legal procedure would have a deterrence effect. To give the law more teeth, we have also sought powers of seizure and confiscation,” the sources said.
The sources also indicated the SIT would look into over-invoicing and under-invoicing of imports and exports, respectively — considered the main modes for hawala transactions.
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Another issue the report underscored was sharing of information between various investigative and enforcement agencies like the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, ED, Reserve Bank and Directorate General of Foreign Trade.
The SIT, set up by the NDA government in one of its first major decisions, comprises retired Supreme Court judges MB Shah and Arijit Pasayat and the heads of 11 investigative, enforcement and intelligence agencies. It reports to the SC and has to keep it “informed of all major developments by the filing of periodic status reports, and following of any special orders... the Supreme Court may issue from time to time”.