The Income Tax department has attached a seven-acre commercial plot in Noida “beneficially owned” by Anand Kumar, brother of BSP chief Mayawati, and his wife. In a provisional attachment order dated July 16, the Benami Prohibition Unit, Delhi, attached the property which is approximately valued at Rs 400 crore, sources said.
“The Benami Prohibition Unit ,Delhi has passed a provisional attachment order on July 16, 2019 under Section 24(3) of the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 with respect to a commercial plot of land measuring 28,328.07 square metres (7 acres) located in prime locality in Noida which is beneficially owned by Anand Kumar and his wife Vichiter Lata. The book value of the property is approximately Rs 400 crore,” a source said. Under the benami law, “beneficial owner” means a person, whether his identity is known or not, for whose benefit the benami property is held by a benamidar.
Mayawati has termed the attachment order as a step by the BJP government to harass political rivals. “The BJP is still misusing its government in the Centre to harass its rivals by forcefully lodging false cases as part of a conspiracy. As part of this sequence, my brothers and sisters are being harassed, which is highly condemnable. But the BSP is not going to get scared or cowed down by this,” Mayawati tweeted in Hindi.
“The government of this party (BJP) had carried out a similar disgusting act against us by using the Income Tax department and CBI in 2003. Everyone knows this. Later, after so much struggle, I had got justice in the Supreme Court.”
Mayawati had last month appointed her brother Kumar as national vice-president of the BSP. Anand was earlier appointed party vice-president after the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, but later Mayawati announced that her brother had resigned from the post to counter allegations of nepotism.
Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 as amended by the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 prohibits the benami transactions irrespective of the method by which the benami property is acquired. Such benami transactions include transactions with respect to movable as well as immovable properties.
Till May 31, 2019, showcause notices have been issued in over 2,100 cases under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act 1988 involving benami properties valued at over Rs 9,600 crore.
Section 24(3) of the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, defines the taxman’s power to attach an asset if it is thought that the person in possession of the property held ‘benami’ may “alienate or sell it”.
According to findings of the probe, the tax department detected a “complex web of shareholding” by at least six firms, including dummy companies, who were the ‘benamidars’ or the entities in whose name the ‘benami’ property is standing. Anand Kumar and Vichiter Lata are the beneficiaries of the funds of the multi-layered ‘benami’ transactions that took place through many benami companies, the department has alleged.
They have been charged with paying the actual monetary consideration to own the asset as defined under the anti-benami law. According to the tax probe, the asset was created after allegedly using the services of Delhi-based hawala entry operators who route illegal money. The department has held that the “source of funds” of these companies is “fictitious” and “unexplained cash credit” under sections of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
Earlier in May this year, the tax department had searched the premises of retired Uttar Pradesh-cadre IAS officer and aide to Mayawati Net Ram on charges of alleged tax evasion and had recovered cash worth Rs 1.04 crore along with detection of properties worth Rs 225 crore.