ALSO READTax sleuths may invoke Benami Act while probing unexplained cash deposits Income-tax department's Benami advertisement leave property owners jittery One year of demonetisation: I-T scanner on 80,000 cases for huge deposits I-T dept seeks data of property deals worth Rs 1 cr or more in last 10 yrs Demonetisation: Business blues but compliance improves
A law to prevent benami property has started yielding results. Properties worth over Rs 35 billion in more than 900 cases have been attached under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, largely due to the efforts of the Income Tax (I-T) department. These include immovable properties such as land, flats, and shops worth more than Rs 29 billion. Jewellery, vehicles, and deposits in bank accounts constitute the remaining properties attached. In five cases, the provisional attachments of benami properties, amounting to more than Rs 1.5 billion, have been confirmed by the adjudicating authority. In one such case, it was established that a real estate company had acquired about 50 acres of land, valued at more than Rs 1.1 billion, using the names of certain persons of no means as benamidars. This was corroborated from the sellers of the land as well as the brokers involved. In another case, post demonetisation, two assessees were found depositing demonetised currency into multiple bank accounts in the names of their employees, associates, etc, to be ultimately remitted to their bank accounts.
The total amount attempted to be remitted to the beneficial owners was about Rs 390 million.In yet another case, a cash amount of Rs 11.1 million was intercepted from a vehicle with a person who denied the ownership of this cash. Subsequently, no one claimed ownership of this cash and it was held to be benami property by the adjudicating authority. Earlier, the I-T department had stepped up actions under the Benami Act.
- Benami Act came into force in 2016
- It provides for provisional attachment and subsequent confiscation of benami properties, whether movable or immovable
- It also allows for prosecution of the beneficial owner, the benamidar and the abettor to benami transactions, which may result in rigorous imprisonment up to seven years and fine up to 25 per cent of fair market value of the property