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Fill up vacancies, augment resources of ED: Parliamentary Panel to FinMin

The department said the working strength of ED increased from 881 as on March 6, 2017, to 941 on March 1, 2018

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Enforcement Directorate
The office of Enforcement Directorate (ED). Photo: Suryakant Niwate

A Parliamentary panel has asked the finance ministry to immediately fill up vacancies in the and augment its resources as work load of the investigative agency has increased post the enactment of the Fugitive Economic Offenders law.

The ED has been investigating high profile cases of multi-crore economic fraud perpetrated by diamantaire Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, businessman Vijay Mallya and a slew of cases involving politicians and senior government officials.

The Standing Committee on Finance, chaired by Congress' Veerappa Moily, noted that the workload and responsibilities of ED have further increased after the enactment of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, but their resources have been curtailed and large number of vacancies remain to be filled.

"The Committee, therefore, desire that the vacancies should be immediately filled up and resources of the sufficiently augmented so that they can discharge all responsibilities entrusted to them in an efficient and time-bound manner," it said in a report on the action taken by the revenue department.

The department said the working strength of ED increased from 881 as on March 6, 2017, to 941 on March 1, 2018.

During 2017-18, the (CBDT) has filed 4,524 prosecution cases in various courts, and conviction orders have been obtained in 75 cases.

The committee was also "alarmed" by the high pendency of appeal cases and reiterated its recommendation for bringing out a pragmatic National Litigation Policy to reduce unnecessary litigation from the government side.

Observing that this will also help curb tendencies for high pitched assessment at lower levels, the panel asked the revenue department to furnish data regarding withdrawal of cases from litigation.

It said that pendency of appeal cases in direct taxes for financial year 2017-18 were over 460,000.

An "alarming" number of 1,38,377 appeals are pending with ITAT (Income Tax Appellate Tribunal), High Courts and Supreme Court, which is around 30 per cent of the total pendency of appeals before all fora and 331,843 appeals are pending with Commissioner of Income-tax (Appeals), which is 70 per cent of total pendency of appeals, the committee said.

"Since the pendency of appeals before is much more as compared to other fora, the Committee had suggested that the department should focus on reducing the pendency... by way of fixing time bound target for disposal of appeals," it added.

First Published: Thu, August 09 2018. 22:37 IST