The government has issued notices in 140 cases involving properties of the value of Rs 200 crore since new benami law came into force in November last. “Since the coming into effect of the amended law from November 1, 2016, several benami transactions have been identified. Show cause notices for provisional attachment of benami properties have been issued in 140 cases involving properties of the value of about Rs 200 crore,” Minister of State for Finance Santosh Kumar Gangwar said.
Out of these, provisional attachment has already been effected in 124 cases and benami properties attached include deposits in bank accounts and immovable properties, he said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, came into effect from November 1, 2016. Though the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 1988, has been on the statue book for more than 28 years, the same could not be made operational because of certain inherent defects.
To provide an effective regime for prohibition of benami transactions, the said Act was amended through Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016.
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In reply to another question, Gangwar said digital financial transactions are part of the government’s strategy to create histories of transactions, including the associated credit, and thereby enable small and micro enterprises to access formal credit, improve tax compliance, and mainstream financial savings into the banking system.
All payment systems, including currency, entail costs, which are borne among transacting parties and payment service providers, and the cost structures of various systems differ, he said.
Transacting parties select a payment system not only on the basis of cost but keeping in mind such advantages as well, he said.
State Bank of India has apprised that three cash deposit transactions per month at branches are available to savings bank account holders free of charge, he said.
“Thereafter, a charge of Rs 50 plus service tax per transaction is to be levied. In addition to free cash deposit transactions at branches, account holders can also deposit cash using ATM/debit card, into the card-linked account, at cash points (Cash Deposit Machines/Cash Recyclers), any number of times, free of charge,” he said.
Replying to a question, Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal said the currency in circulation as on March 31, 2017 is Rs 13.35 lakh crore.
Demonetisation seeks to create a new ‘normal’ wherein the GDP would be bigger, cleaner and real, Meghwal said, adding, the exercise is part of government’s resolve to eliminate corruption, black money, counterfeit currency and terror funding.
“Like all reforms, this measure is disruptive, as it seeks to change the retrograde status quo. Drop in economic activity, if any, on account of currency squeeze, is expected to have only a transient impact on the economy,” he added.