The Income Tax department has decided to share it’s PAN card database with the NATGRID — a network aimed to initiate robust information sharing amongst law enforcement agencies to tackle terror threats at home and abroad. The department, after getting approval from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), has however, stopped short of sharing the ‘sensitive’ and ‘highly sensitive’ database of taxpayers and entities related to financial transactions and investigations.
The I-T department has developed and created two high-end data mining tools for the use of its investigation and intelligence wings, called ‘360-degree’ profiling and the Computer-Assisted Scrutiny System (CASS).
The department has also created two forensic laboratories to decipher and work on sensitive data related to cross-border transactions, high value tax evasion, in the national capital and Mumbai.
The labs have been developed with the help of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC).
Sources in the Finance Ministry said while the ‘index’ of the Permanent Account Number (PAN) card database will be committed to the NATGRID, the information in other two databases will be shared only after specific requests from any of the law enforcement agencies is received for purposes of probe and as part of intelligence sharing.
The ‘index’ of a database pertains to the thumbnails of a particular information.
The Cabinet Committee on Security has recently given an in-principle approval to the ambitious project which aims to bring 21 sets of databases which will be networked to achieve quick, seamless and secure access to desired information for intelligence and enforcement agencies.
The databases includes railway and air travel, income tax, bank account details, credit card transactions, visa and immigration records among others.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal ministry to implement the NATGRID.
In the first phase, the ministry plans that 10 user agencies and 21 service providers will be connected in 26 months, while in later phases about 950 additional organisations will be connected in 12 months and another over 1,000 organisations in the subsequent 12 months.