Panama papers: SC grants 2 more weeks to Centre to file reply

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday granted two more weeks to the Centre to file its response on a plea seeking CBI probe against Indian offshore bank account holders named in the Panama papers.

A bench, comprising Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan, granted more time to the government to file the affidavit after the Centre told the court that investigation is in progress and it was looking into the allegations.

It also issued a notice to the Centre on a similar but fresh plea filed by Manik Bhimrao Jadhav, a former Maharashtra MLC, seeking setting up of a Commission of Inquiry to look into “illegal investments” made in off-shore companies.

The bench said it would tag the fresh one with the earlier pending PIL on the issue.

A Multi-Agency Group (MAG) of various investigative agencies has been formed by the government to go into the disclosures made in the list which includes about 500 Indian entities.

The leak of Panama Papers contain an unprecedented amount of information, including more than 11 million documents covering 2,10,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. Each transaction spans different jurisdictions and may involve multiple entities and individuals.

The petition filed by advocate M L Sharma has also sought a CBI probe against the Indian offshore account holders and stock market regulators under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

He had also sought direction to CBI to lodge an FIR and conduct investigation against the SEBI chairman, his associates, share brokers and others for alleged offences including, those under Prevention of Corruption Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Sharma had alleged that Panama Papers include the names of nearly 500 Indians, including celebrities and industrialists who have parked funds in offshore accounts in transactions brokered by the law firm.

The petitioner has alleged that these offshore bank accounts and funds therein have been protected and allowed to be in circulation in Indian stock market through regulators under political protection for which SEBI chairman and directors have been re-appointed and their terms extended several times.