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Serious operation needed to combat 'blackmoney cancer': SIT

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money today said a "serious operation" of strictly enacting and enforcing anti-tax evasion laws is the only solution for combating and winning over the "cancerous" menace of illegal funds stashed abroad and within the country.

SIT Chairman Justice (retd) M B Shah, while launching a book on the subject, said a combination of "strong enactment and enforcement" of laws is the most necessary requirement if the country wants to check black money and "bring out" the offenders and various instances of black economy perpetration.

"It (combating black money) may require serious operation. Unless there is serious operation by enactment and enforcement of laws you will not be able to get black money, or to say, bring it out. Mere making a statement will not do anything. This cancerous growth is required to be controlled. Corruption at all levels is the main cause of the generation of black money," he said.

Justice Shah exhorted that the "wrong" has to be punished as he hailed the recent anti-black money law passed by the government in Parliament.

"It is difficult to say it (the new black money law) is harsh...It's an elaborate Act. We are happy that some suggestions (made by SIT) have been accepted by the government," he said.

Agreeing with his senior on the high-powered panel, SIT Vice Chairman Justice (retd) Arijit Pasayat said the often mentioned question of how black money will be brought back is a "misnomer".

"Rather, what we need to do is to tax the due, prosecute and put penalties on the said overseas black money amount and that way you will have your pound of flesh," Pasayat said.

"The approach of policy makers and tax officials should be to legitimately get back what (tax) is due to the country. They should attach the corresponding value assets of the accused present in the country," he added.

Pasayat said rather than looking at suspected tax havens abroad, such instances within India should be looked into.

"There are concerns how would you get back black money. I would say don't look at Singapore or Virgin Islands...Look inside India. Practically, most of it is generated here. If we act tough at this stage when it begins inside country, then we will have success," he said.

Pasayat said tax havens should not be called by the said name as "heaven" is a place of "safety" and rather they should become "hell" for tax evaders and illegal funds operators.

He voiced Justice Shah's concerns saying there should be a "zero tolerance" on corruption.

Justice Shah also lamented on the slow pace of filing of FIRs, investigation and court trials in black money cases.

"If the Acts are not implemented properly, their deterrent effect is lost," the SIT Chairman said.

He underlined that over-invoicing and under-invoicing of traded goods was one of the big methods to generate tainted funds and enforcement agencies have to be very active to check this.

The book -- It's Raining Black! -- launched by the two veteran judges is authored by Shailendra Kumar.

First Published: Fri, May 22 2015. 23:07 IST