With an aim to prohibit benami transactions, the Union Cabinet approved introduction of amendments to the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2015, in Parliament. The amendments aim to strengthen the Bill in terms of legal and administrative procedure so as to overcome the practical difficulties which may arise in the implementation of its provisions when it becomes an Act, a government release said.
The legislation is intended to prevent circumvention of law through unfair practices. “It empowers the government to confiscate benami property by following due procedure. It therefore promotes equity across all citizens,” it said. However, those declaring their benami properties under ‘income declaration scheme’ will get immunity under the Benami Act, it said.
The Centre had in Budget 2015-16 announced that it would come out with a new Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill and it was introduced in Lok Sabha last year. A Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act was passed in 1988 to put an end to such transactions and to empower the government to recover such property. The Act, however, had several loopholes including the absence of an appellate mechanism and lack of provisions for vesting of the confiscated property with the Centre. Owing to these infirmities, the Rules for the Act were also not framed. The UPA 2 government introduced a Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill, 2011, to replace the 1988 Act. However, the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
The Cabinet also cleared a Memorandum of Understanding for skill development between India and Swiss Confederation. The agreement was signed on June 22 during the visit of a delegation led by Minister for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy to Switzerland. A Memorandum of Understanding between India and Tunisia for strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of IT, telecom and digital economy was also cleared by the Cabinet. The pact intends to promote cooperation between private entities, governments, institutions involved in enhancing capacity building and other public and private organisations of the two countries in the field of ICT and Digital Economy, the official release said.
The Cabinet also approved signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Mozambique to promote air connectivity between the two countries.