Gangtok, December 5, 2017: Sikkim, second smallest state in India surrounded by Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal is the only state that allows lotteries, casinos and online gaming. Being the least populous state with a population just above six lakh according to the 2011 census, is outside the purview of Income tax. The State Bank of Sikkim is outside the purview of Bank Regulation Act 1949 and the Companies Act, 2013. Since Sikkim joined Union of India in 1975, SBS operates as an autonomous body under the Government of Sikkim. Its jurisdiction is restricted to Sikkim and has a total of 41 branches and it’s headquarters stands in the state capital, Gangtok.
“SBS beyond the control of RBI provides a safe haven for terrorist funds and ill-gotten wealth. Without obligation on part of the bank to disclose identity of its depositors is akin to a ‘Swiss Bank’ sort of secrecy,” says a petition field before the Bombay High Court by Ashok Kumar Jain, an anti-corruption and RTI activist.
The High Court accepted his plea and served notice to the SBS and RBI. Jain in his petition alleged that it had come to his notice that a former chairman of DVC and several other PSU chiefs had stashed their money in accounts in the State Bank of Sikkim. “If SBS is brought under the control of RBI, this black money can be retrieved and used for the revival of sick PSUs,” said Jain. Reserve Bank of India had raised concerns over the functioning of the State Bank of Sikkim in the past. Claiming that the bank’s balance sheet had not been audited for the past five years, RBI in a letter to the Finance Ministry in 2015 had expressed serious reservations about the regulatory vacuum in which SBS was being allowed to
The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, a political party in Sikkim had also accused SBS of servicing ineligible bank accounts during demonetisation. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, it expressed fear that SBS could be used to launder money in the wake of demonetisation.
Feature image courtesy: Panin Kasheer News Network
TNT News with inputs from National Herald