The Income-Tax department has registered over 230 cases across the country under the new Benami Transactions Act and attached assets worth as much as Rs 55 crore, authorities revealed today.
The Income-Tax department has registered over 230 cases across the country under the new Benami Transactions Act and attached assets worth as much as Rs 55 crore, authorities revealed today. This follows closely in the wake of the first raids in the country launched at the end of January in the wake of the demonetisation drive that had targetted cash – black money generated through the high denomination currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 value. While the cash purge was still going on, the government also backed it up by launching a crackdown against benami transactions that was prevalent in property. This was because black money holders generally got rid of their cash by buying property or other assets through the benami route. A Benami transaction is described thus: a person not buying a property in own name, but is instead financing the property in someone else’s name will be termed as ‘benamidar’ and such property will be termed as ‘benami property’.
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Income Tax department and other officials have served numerous summons under the Benami Transactions Act. This was especially made possible after it emerged that black money hoarders were using either the benami accounts or Jan Dhan accounts to deposit their illegal stash or in otherwise dormant bank accounts – the description of such an arrangement was defined in this way – where a person deposits old currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 in the bank account of another person with an understanding that the account holder shall return his money in new currency, the transaction shall be regarded as benami transaction under the said Act. Also, the person in whose bank account the old currency has been deposited has been categorised as a ‘benamidar’.
The attached assets, officials said includes deposit in bank accounts, agricultural and other land, flats and jewellery among others. When the demonetisation drive took place in November last year, IT- departments had warned through public advertisements against depositing their unaccounted money in old currency.
Such an act, it had said, would attract criminal charges under the Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, applicable on both movable and immovable property. The provisions of Benami Transaction Act is being taken after analysing serious cases where illegalities were blatant or the suspected cash was deposited in either Jan Dhan or benami accounts, an official said.
I-T dept sources revealed today that properties of about Rs 200 crore are involved in such benami transactions. Also revealed was that out of the benami transactions already identified, the Units set-up under Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act have already issued show cause notices for attachment of benami properties in 140 cases. Income-Tax department sources said that out of these notices, in 124 cases benami properties worth more than Rs 55 crore have already been provisionally attached. I-T identified large number of benami transactions & properties. Till mid February, number of such cases exceeded 235, they added.
Post demonetisation, a nationwide operation was launched by the Income tax department to account for the huge illegal cash identifying suspected bank accounts. A transaction will be termed as Benami if a person deposits old currencies of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 in the bank account of another person with an understanding to return his money in the new currency. Benami Act also enables for provisional attachment of such assets which can eventually be confiscated by, said in official.
The Act also provides that the benamidar, the beneficial owner and any other person who abets or induces the Benami transaction, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a period ranging from 1-7 years.