Taxation
Domestic laws should not over-ride tax treaties: Mauritius

India is looking to amend the taxation treaty with Mauritius, which was entered into in 1983, amid concerns that the island nation is being used by companies to evade taxes

New Delhi: Amid concerns over India's new tax proposals, Mauritius on Friday said domestic legislations should not over-ride the double taxation avoidance treaties between the two countries, reports PTI.

"Once the 'Limitation of Benefit' clause is embedded in the taxation treaties, we expect it to prevail and no domestic legislation should over-ride the treaty," Mauritius minister of foreign affairs, regional integration and international trade, Arvin Boolell said.

India is looking to implement new rules to tackle the menace of tax evasion.

A large quantum of foreign investments in India are routed through Mauritius, to escape the tax net, which has prompted the government to bring out the General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) to prevent abuse of the tax treaty.

Mr Boolell said that Mauritius is willing to resolve all issues related to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement treaty (DTAA) with India.

The joint working group of the two countries would meet from 22nd to 24th August to iron out differences over the tax treaty, he said at a press conference.

Mr Boolell said the zero capital gains tax in Mauritius would continue to be there under the treaty. "Article 13 (related to capital gains tax) is sacrosanct," he noted.

Article 13 refers to the clause in DTAA, whereby a company can avail the benefits of the treaty and pay capital gains tax only in Mauritius.

However, companies are misusing this clause to avoid taxes since Mauritius does not charge capital gains tax.

Noting that the two countries have made tremendous progress since 2006 regarding their DTAA, he said everything has been done to curb round-tripping.

Round-tripping generally refers to re-routing of money by companies to avoid taxes.

India is looking to amend the taxation treaty with Mauritius, which was entered into in 1983 amid concerns that the island nation is being used by companies to evade taxes.

In May this year, the Indian government had said that Mauritius was 'unwilling' to bring in safeguards to prevent the misuse of taxation treaty between the two nations.

The joint working group on DTAA, which is to meet next month, has so far met seven times.
Nearly 40% of the foreign direct investments (FDI) into the country came through Mauritius between April 2000 and February 2012.

Many of the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) investing in the Indian stock market are from Mauritius.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters, former Mauritius finance minister, Rama Sithanen, said that his country was "not a tax haven".

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SC pulls up CBI in Mayawati case, quashes DA case against the BSP leader

Supreme Court said the method adopted by the CBI was "unwarranted" and the agency proceeded against Mayawati without properly understanding its orders passed in the Taj Corridor scam

 

New Delhi: In a major relief to Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati, the Supreme Court on Friday quashed a nine-year-long disproportionate assets case against her and pulled up the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for initiating the probe against her without specific directions from the court, reports PTI.

The apex court said that the method adopted by the CBI was "unwarranted" and the agency proceeded against her without properly understanding its orders passed in the Taj Corridor scam.

A bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam clarified that the Supreme Court order pertained to initiating probe against state government officials in the scam and there was no such direction to lodge another first information report (FIR) exclusively against Mayawati for allegedly amassing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income.

The apex court said there is no finding in the CBI's status report of September 2008 that Mayawati had allegedly amassed disproportionate assets during the period 1995-2003.

"There is no material report of disproportionate assets case against the petitioner (Mayawati) in the Taj Corridor scam," the bench said while referring to the probe agency's status report.

The court further said that its order of 2002 was specifically pertaining to Taj Corridor case and there was no direction for lodging an FIR against Mayawati as was done by the CBI.

While reading out the operative part of its judgment, the bench observed there was "no such direction to lodge another FIR under Prevention of Corruption Act exclusively against Mayawati".

"The CBI proceeded without properly understanding our orders", the bench said, adding, "Method adopted by the CBI is unwarranted."

The apex court said that the investigating agency exceeded it jurisdiction by filing a DA case against the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister as there was no such direction from it.

"The CBI should have lodged only one FIR (in Taj Corridor scam). There was no direction for lodging second FIR (against Mayawati) by the Supreme Court," the bench said.

The court passed the judgment on Mayawati's plea seeking quashing of proceedings against her in the DA case lodged by the CBI.

She had alleged that the agency was being used as a political tool by "fixing" the case against her.

Mayawati had approached the apex court in May 2008 seeking quashing of the criminal proceedings against her in the DA case lodged by the CBI nine years ago. She had alleged it was an act of political vendetta against her.

The court had reserved its judgment on May 1, this year after hearing both the sides.

Mayawati had said the bench should direct the CBI to consider the aspect of order passed by the Income Tax Tribunal holding that her income was genuine. The order had also been upheld by the Delhi High Court, she had said.

The CBI had alleged there was "ample evidence" to show that she had amassed wealth disproportionate to her known sources of income.

Mayawati had claimed she had received the money as donations from party workers.

Questioning Mayawati's assets, the CBI had alleged her declared assets of Rs1 crore in 2003 had gone up to Rs50 crore in 2007.

The CBI, in its last affidavit filed on 13 September 2011, had alleged there was a "criminal nexus" between Mayawati and her relatives and the disproportionate assets case against her could not be closed on the basis of conclusions arrived at by the Income Tax Department.

The agency had rejected Mayawati's stand that the DA case should come to an end after the income tax authorities had accepted her income tax assessments.

Soon after the court's order, a close aide of Mayawati and senior advocate SC Mishra said that the verdict was a fitting reply to those who had raised questions on the integrity of the BSP supremo over the years.

"The judgement of the apex court is a reply to all the defamatory remarks and comments alleging corruption and amassing of disproportionate assets by Mayawati, made by people at public meetings and through the media over the years," he said told reporters outside the court.

"We got justice after nine years," he said.

Mishra alleged that the case against Mayawati was filed by the CBI "malafidely" and under "political pressure" and that was why the agency did not withdraw the proceedings against her despite she being given a clean chit by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and the Delhi High Court.

"The CBI started all the proceedings malafidely under political/governmental pressure, that why it did not withdraw the cases against Mayawati despite a clean chit to her by the Income tax Tribunal and the Delhi High Court," he said.

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