The Lok Sabha on Wednesday approved the Benami Transactions Amendment Bill, which is aimed at further tightening penal provisions to curb the use of black money in acquiring properties.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley assured the House that genuine religious trusts would be kept out of the purview of the legislation. “A lot of people who have unaccounted money buy benami property in the name of fictitious persons … these transactions have to be discouraged,” Jaitley said moving the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2015 for the consideration and passage.
“There is Section 58 under the law which clearly states that charitable or religious organisation properties, the government has power to exempt those,” Jaitley said, taking note of concerns expressed by some members about the applicability of the amended law on properties in the name of holy books and deities.
“If there is a genuine property which belongs to a church or a mosque or a gurdwara or a temple, Section 58 says that the government has the power to exempt it,” he said. However, Jaitley cautioned that exemption to such entities could not be a pretext for tax evasion. The provisions of the Bill will come into effect after the Rajya Sabha gives its nod.