Under the existing provisions of section 131(1) of the Income-tax Act, certain income-tax authorities have been conferred the same powers as are available to a Civil Court while trying a suit in respect of discovery and inspection, enforcing the attendance of any person, including any officer of a banking company and examining him on oath, compelling production of books of account and other documents and issuing commissions.

It is proposed to facilitate prompt collection of information on requests received from tax authorities outside India in relation to an agreement for exchange of information under section 90 or section 90A of the Income-tax Act.

Accordingly, it is proposed to insert sub-section (2) in section 131. The new sub-section provides that for the purpose of making an enquiry or investigation in respect of any person or class of persons in relation to an agreement referred to in section 90 or section 90A, it shall be competent for any income-tax authority, not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Income-tax, as notified by the Board in this behalf, to exercise the powers currently conferred on income-tax authorities referred to in section 131(1). The authority so notified by the Board shall be able to exercise the powers under section 131(1) notwithstanding that no proceedings with respect to such person or class of persons are pending before it or any other income-tax authority.

It is further proposed to amend section 131(3) so as to empower the aforesaid authority, as notified by the Board, to impound and retain any books of account and other documents produced before it in any proceeding under the Act.

Similar amendments have also been proposed in section 133 of the Income-tax Act.

These amendments will take effect from 1st June, 2011.

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