Income Tax Department To Share PAN, Bank Account Data With 10 Agencies As Counter Terrorism Measure
The Income Tax (I-T) Department, as known, will share PAN and bank account details of any possible human being with 10 investigative and intelligence agencies, with the inclusion of CBI and the NIA, under the integrated counter-terrorism platform NATGRID, in accordance to an official order. Moreover, The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which in fact, frames policy for the I-T Department, stated in a July 21st order that information like permanent account number (PAN), Tax Deduction and Collection Account Number (TAN), bank account details, summary of IT Returns and tax deducted at source (TDS) and "any other information as mutually agreed" will be shared with the 10 agencies.
The "furnishing and receiving of information to and from", as of information, these central agencies will be done through the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), a sturdy mechanism intended to track suspects and intercept terrorist attacks with real-time data and access to classified information as like immigration, banking, individual taxpayers, air and train travels.
The 10 agencies are: the Central Bureau of Investigation, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, Cabinet Secretariat, Intelligence Bureau, Directorate General of GST Intelligence, Narcotics Control Bureau, Financial Intelligence Unit and the National Investigation Agency.
Nonetheless, these agencies, the time in question, are authorised to obtain real-time NATGRID data as part of a legal arrangement made in the past.
"While furnishing the information, the specified income-tax authority shall form an opinion that sharing of such information is necessary for the purposes of enabling these agencies/bodies to perform its functions under their respective laws," the CBDT order stated.
Moreover, the CBDT and the NATGRID will, very soon, sign a Memorandum of Understanding to finalise the latest information-sharing mechanism, it mentioned.
The tax department and the NATGRID have an already set up agreement for sharing PAN-related information since 2017 and the fresh and new measure is a step forward for better and confidential sharing of the data amid all the probe and intelligence agencies in order to better enabled analysis and counter any armed, financial or cyber threat to the country, a senior officer mentioned.
The requirement for the NATGRID came only after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks exposed the deficiency that security agencies had no mechanism to look for important information on a real-time basis.
The deficiency of quick information was, however, considered to be one of the major obstacles in detecting US terror suspect David Headley's movement all across the nation during his multiple visits between 2006 and 2009. Headley had supplied key information and videos of terror targets to Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba that carried out the attacks in Mumbai which resulted in the deaths of 166 people including foreigners.
Also, the Cabinet Committee on Security had given approval to the Rs 3,400-crore NATGRID project on April 8th, 2010, however, its work slowed down after 2012. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Narendra Modi later directed for its revival.
Writer - Soumili Roy
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