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Law Ministry says no to death penalty for economic offenders

The Law Ministry told a government panel on black money that imposing death penalty on economic offenders would be barbaric and take the nation backward.

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The Law Ministry today told a government panel on black money that imposing death penalty on economic offenders would be barbaric and take the nation backward.

The opinion was communicated to CBDT Chairman MC Joshi-headed panel on black money which discussed the need for strengthening the administrative mechanism to deal with the menace.

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 them.

"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 Indian courts.

"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 assessment years.

Constituted in May, the panel was asked to suggest legal framework for confiscating illegal wealth and measures to bring back black money stashed abroad.

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