The Income Tax Department has attached benami assets worth Rs 1,833 crore so far as part of its “sustained action plan” against such properties, the CBDT said today. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman Sushil Chandra told PTI that the I-T department would continue taking “strong” action against benami asset holders under its sustained action plan and that this action “will not stop”. “I can assure you that this probe will not end. We are obtaining more data and information from all available avenues on such assets. More such instances and assets will be identified and strong legal action will be taken,” he said. Official data, updated till October, shows that assets worth Rs 1,833 crore have been attached by the I-T department, for which it issued over 517 notices and made 541 attachments. The maximum of such cases, at 136, have been booked in the Ahmedabad region, followed by Bhopal (93), Karnataka and Goa (76), Chennai (72), Jaipur (62), Mumbai (61) and Delhi (55).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a recent election rally in Himachal Pradesh, also hinted at a sustained crackdown on ‘benami’ properties, and alleged that the opposition Congress was “worried” as such assets of its leaders would not be spared. “I tried to get some information from Congress leaders… some (Congress leaders) lost their bags of Rs 500 notes, some of Rs 1,000 notes. In the meantime, Modi has come with benami law. Their worry is that Modi will start showing results.
“Their worry is that benami assets such as land, flats, shops that they have kept hidden like Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes are not going to be spared,” the prime minister said, referring to demonetisation and an amended legislation to prohibit benami transactions. After the prime minister announced the withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the two highest value banknotes of the time, from circulation on November 8 last year, the I-T department had warned people against depositing their unaccounted banknotes in accounts maintained by someone else.
Such an act, it had said, would attract criminal charges under the Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, applicable on both movable and immovable properties. The I-T department is the nodal department to enforce the Benami Act in the country. The department started initiating actions under the new Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 from November 1 last year. The law provides for a maximum punishment of seven years in jail and a fine.