Income Tax Department steps-up actions under Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act
Income Tax Department steps-up actions under Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act : Benami properties of more than Rs. 3,500 crore in more than 900 cases attached
Due to intensive efforts undertaken by the Income Tax Department, provisional attachment has been made in more than 900 cases of properties under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act (the ‘Benami Act’), which came into force w.e.f 1st November, 2016. These attachments include plots of land, flats, shops, jewellery, vehicles, deposits in bank accounts, fixed deposits etc. The value of properties under attachment is more than Rs. 3,500 crore including immovable properties of more than Rs. 2,900 crore.
In five cases, the provisional attachments of Benami properties, amounting to more than Rs. 150 crore 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.110 crore, 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 demonetization, two assessees were found depositing demonetized 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. 39 crore. In yet another case, a cash amount of Rs. 1.11 crore 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 Income Tax Department had stepped-up actions under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act (the ‘Benami Act’. The Act 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 7 years and fine upto 25% of fair market value of the property.
The Department had set-up 24 dedicated Benami Prohibition Units (BPUs) under its Investigation Directorates all over India in May, 2017 to ensure swift action in respect of Benami properties.
The Department is committed to continue its concerted drive against black money and action against Benami transactions will continue to be intensified.