New Delhi: The Law Ministry on Friday told a
government panel on black money that imposing death penalty on
economic offenders would be barbaric and take the nation
The opinion was communicated to CBDT Chairman M C Joshi-
headed panel on black money which discussed the need for
strengthening the administrative mechanism to deal with the
The committee, according to a Finance Ministry official,
was against any amnesty scheme for tax evaders and "is not
likely to recommend Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme
(VDIS) for assessees, domestic or overseas".
As regards harsher punishment for economic offenders, the
Law Ministry representative told the Committee that it was
not possible to award death penalty or life imprisonment to
"It (death penalty) is barbaric. Such provisions will
take the country centuries back," the official said.
Death penalty is awarded in the rarest of rare cases by
"No need for new laws. Existing laws are adequate to deal
with economic offences. We only need to strengthen
administrative machinery and deploy more manpower and
resources," said an official after the meeting.
It, however, is of the view that taxmen should be given
powers to look into income tax returns even beyond six
Constituted in May, the panel was asked to suggest legal
framework for confiscating illegal wealth and measures to
bring back black money stashed abroad.
The committee on black money has been asked to examine,
among other things, imposing an "exemplary punishment" on
perpetrators of illegal funds.
After the committee meeting, the Finance Ministry
official said laws are being reviewed on a continuous process.
Giving an example, he said the proposed Direct Tax Code (DTC)
is a modern and competent direct tax law.
The existing laws like the Income Tax Act and the
Prevention of Money Laundering Act have provisions for tough
punishments for economic offences, he said.
While the committee is not in favour of enacting any new
law, it may suggest to the government that the real estate
business should be regulated.
The need of the hour, the panel opined, was proper
implementation of laws and a better information sharing system
between the various agencies of the government..
It is likely to submit its recommendation by November.
During the meeting, public feedback on the issue also
came up for discussions.
Some of the major suggestions include state funding of
elections, compulsory scrutiny of returns of politicians, sale
of public licences only through auction and passing of public
With an aim to deal with the menace of black money, India
has adopted a five-pronged strategy, including negotiation and
re-negotiation of tax treaties with different countries.