‘So many zeroes…’ Supreme Court raps tax department on 2G (Lead)

May 5th, 2011 - 3:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday pulled up the income tax department for slow and sketchy investigations into the 2G scam, saying figures in its status report “were mindboggling” and had “so many zeroes”.

The court also noted that investigations by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the scam had been “fast-paced” so far, but said it would consider appointing a committee of eminent people to monitor their probe.

Justice G.S. Singvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly asked the director general, income tax, to file a comprehensive report giving full details of its probe into the role of people in the scam, in particular from the time it got in October telephonic intercepts of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia.

As the status report by the income tax department was being read to the court, Justice Ganguly said: “The figures are mind-boggling. We have never seen so many zeroes.”

The court asked the income tax department: “What was the day when you sent the notices and what was the progress on those notices?”

It said in the “last six months we have seen fast-paced investigations by the CBI and the ED. The IT department should have been more quicker because there are cases of tax evasion”.

The court said that the cases “should not be treated with an ordinary approach. We would like to have a detailed and comprehensive report to be submitted by May 16″.

The judges granted the income tax department the liberty to approach the CBI special judge trying the 2G scam if they wanted to examine any official in custody.

They also directed the department to supply copies of its status report to the CBI and ED.

The apex court said it would consider senior counsel Prashant Bhushan’s suggestion for the appointment of a group of eminent persons to assist the court in monitoring investigation into the scam by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for CBI, opposed a monitoring committee for now, saying it would mean expressing lack of confidence in investigation by the CBI.

He said officers of the CBI and ED would proceed to Mauritius with letters rogatory to track the money trail in the 2G scam.

He said the court can wait till July when a further status report would be filed by the CBI and ED on their return from Mauritius.

However, the court said it will hold further hearing May 13 on the plea by Prashant Bhushan seeking appointment of a monitoring committee.

The scam relates to irregularities in the allocation of airwaves to telecom firms that allegedly caused huge losses to the national exchequer. Several corporate bigwigs besides former communications minister A. Raja are in jail because of the scam.

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