The government has stepped up action against Benami properties, with the Income Tax (IT) Department attaching properties worth Rs 3500. After demonetisation and GST, Income taxDepartment, provisionally attached 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 and fixed deposits, the department said, adding the value of immovable properties seized is more than Rs 2,900 crore.
Stepping up action against fake ownership of assets and transactions made in fictitious names, the Income Tax Department has attached benami properties worth more than Rs 3,500 crore in 900-plus cases.
The statement said that in five cases, the provisional attachments of benami properties, amounting to more than Rs 150 crore have been confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority.
It said 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. In another case, after demonetisation, two assesses were found depositing demonetised currency into multiple bank accounts in the names of their employees and associates, the Finance Ministry said. There is also a case of a cash amount of Rs 1.11 crore being intercepted from a vehicle with a person who denied the ownership of this cash.
The new law has sent shivers down the spine of those who hold benami properties and the tough law is part of the government's stringent action against unaccounted wealth. Subsequently, no one claimed ownership of this cash and it was held to be benami property by the adjudicating authority.
"Benamidar (in whose name benami proper is standing), beneficiary (who actually paid consideration) and persons who abet and induce benami transactions are prosecutable and may face rigorous imprisonment upto 7 years besides being liable to pay fine upto 25 per cent of fair market value of benami property", the I-T advertisement said.
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016, provides for provisional attachment and subsequent confiscation of benami properties, whether movable or immovable. There is an instruction to go aggressive on benami transactions and properties.