In a major crackdown, the Income Tax department has attached over 1,500 unaccounted properties across the country. The value is estimated at Rs 43 billion. The action comes within a year of the revised benami legislation.
A report in the Business Standard said that Jaipur and Mumbai topped the list of attachments with around 200 properties each.
Patna with 30 saw the least number of attachments, which was followed by Lucknow at 50. At Kolkata, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad, 144, 110, and 100 properties were attached.
Most of the properties that were attached belonged to gold dealers, bankers, hawala operators, senior government officials and politicians, the report while citing officials said.
Interestingly in a case reported from Jabalpur, a driver who was found to be the benamidar owned land worth Rs 77 million. The owner is the employer of the driver, which is a Madhya based listed company.
What is the Benami Property Act
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act came into force on November 1 2017. This act would have only a post-facto effect which means it would be after the benami transaction has taken place.
The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on May 13, 2015 to amend the Benami Transactions Act of 1988. While the act provides for preventing and confiscating benami properties, the bill sought to amend the definition of benami transactions, (establish adjudicating authorities and an Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions, and specify the penalty for entering into benami transactions.
The Act defines a benami transaction as a transaction where a property is held by or transferred to a person, but has been provided for or paid by another person. The Bill amends this definition to add other transactions which qualify as benami, such as property transactions where:
(i) the transaction is made in a fictitious name,
(ii) the owner is not aware of denies knowledge of the ownership of the property, or
(iii) the person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable.