Source: News Bharati English21 Nov 2016 16:15:05

New Delhi, November 21: After demonetization drive the Modi government is making efforts to implement more such measures to eradicate corruption and catch hold of black money, and Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 is one of them. This amended act came in to action from November 1, 2016 the authorities are all set with stringent laws to uproot this illegal practice from the country.

PM Modi in during his speech in Goa clearly cautioned, “We all know under whose rule all scams took place and now they are blaming me. But I am not going to stop at this. I will expose the history of corruption of 70 years since Independence.”

What is Benami Property?

Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 2016 defines Benami property as property which is purchased by a person in some other name. The person in whose name the benami property is transferred or owned is called benamidar and a beneficial owner is the person for whose benefit the property is being held by the benamidar.

What are Benami Transactions?

Post amendment transactions which qualify as Benami include,

  • Transaction made in a fictitious/ fake/ untrue name,
  • Owner not aware of or denies knowledge of the ownership of the property or person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable.

What exceptions the revised Act include?

The amended bill also included exceptions like, cases when a property is held by:

  • A member of a Hindu undivided family, and is being held for his or another family member’s benefit, and has been provided for or paid off from sources of income of that family,
  • Person in a fiduciary (trustee) capacity or
  • Person in the name of his spouse or child, and the property has been paid for from the person’s income.

Who is authorized to investigate?

Four authorities are officially given the responsibility to carry out investigations and set up enquiry, including:

  • Initiating Officer,
  • Approving Authority,
  • Administrator and
  • Adjudicating Authority.

Also an appellate tribunal will be set up to address issues raised against the orders of the adjudicating authority and the issues raised relating to orders passed by appellate tribunal will be addressed by high court.

What is the Penalty & Punishment imposed?

Many alterations have been made in the penalty and punishment imposed on person entering into benami transaction, like penalty period from 1year to 3years, 7 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine which may extend to 25 percent of the fair market value of the benami property.

The altered act also forbids recovery of the property held benami from benamidar by the real owner. In fact, properties which are found benami are liable to be confiscated by the government without payment of compensation.

It may not be wrong to say that post 50 days demonetization drive, the next target of Modi government is the benami property, since the demonetization drive has already trapped practitioners of such fallacious activity.