The Supreme Court on Monday said there was no need for a separate Special Investigation Team to investigate offshore accounts of Indians exposed in the Panama papers leak, PTI reported. The court said a Multi-Agency Group set up by the government was already looking into it.
The bench of Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit said the Multi-Agency Group, which has officers from the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Reserve Bank of India, Enforcement Directorate and Financial Intelligence Unit, is “already like a Special Investigation Team”. “What is the need to form a separate SIT?” the bench asked.
The petitioner advocate ML Sharma told the court that an SIT should be formed for a fair investigation, as Reserve Bank of India rules and the Foreign Exchange Management Act were allegedly violated. He said seven reports had been filed in the Supreme Court in sealed covers but the government was yet to file a first information report on them.
Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, representing the Centre, said investigating offshore accounts of Indians was “not ordinary” and “very complicated” and the multi-agency group was already looking into it.
In April this year, the court had asked the Centre if the cases needed an SIT.
The Panama Papers leak
In April 2016, a major leak of millions of documents from the database of a Panama-based law firm – Mossack Fonseca – had shown the hidden offshore wealth of some of the world’s top leaders and celebrities. The list had included 500 Indians. The Centre had formed a Multi-Agency Group to investigate the allegations.