In the first eight months since the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016 came into effect on November 1, 2016, the government has identified 413 benami transactions and has provisionally attached properties in 233 cases valued at Rs 813 crore, across 14 regions of the Director General of Income Tax (Investigation).
While details of such actions under the Act are available for the period between November 1, 2016 and June 20, 2017, the finance ministry said, “Provisional attachment of properties under the Act was made in 233 cases. Value of properties under attachment is Rs 813 crore. The benami properties attached include deposits in bank accounts, jewelry, immovable properties, etc.”
Government data show that while the value of attached properties is Rs 813 crore, those attached in Kolkata region alone accounted for Rs 477 crore or more than 58 per cent of the value of benami properties under provisional attachment. On the contrary, the Lucknow region, where a total of 13 transactions were detected under the Act, witnessed no attachment of benami properties under the Act. In Patna region, while 19 cases witnessed provisional attachments, the value of such benami properties was only Rs 7 lakh.
While Kolkata came on top in terms of value of benami properties attached under the Act, Ahmedabad saw the highest number of transactions (74) detected under the Act, even as provisional attachments were made in only 4 cases. Chennai and Mumbai region saw the highest number of cases where benami properties were attached provisionally and together they accounted for nearly half of such cases (107 out of 233). While Chennai region accounted for 65 cases where provisional attachments were made, Mumbai region saw it in 42 cases. The value of attachments in Chennai region amounted to Rs 93.39 crore (second only to Kolkata region), the value of attachments in Mumbai region stood at Rs 91.74 crore.
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988, was comprehensively amended through Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016, and came in force in November 2016. While the amended Act empowers authorities to provisionally attach and eventually confiscate benami properties. A person found guilty of offence of benami transaction is punishable with rigorous imprisonment for at least one-year that can be extended up to 7 years. The benamidar shall be liable to fine which may extend to 25 per cent of the fair market value of the property.