After illicit cash, I-T Dept turns focus on benami properties

31 January 2017

With demonetisation drive done and over with and numerous raids by authorities leading to seizures of thousands of crores of rupees, the Income-Tax department has turned its focus on benami properties, reports say.

The Income-Tax Department attached 42 properties during the last few days and issued 87 notices under prohibition of Benami property transaction Act, PTI reports.

The department also revealed that bank deposits worth crores of rupees have been confiscated under the newly enforced Benami Transactions Act, which attracts a heavy penalty and jail term of up to seven years.

The I-T Department had issued public advertisements warning people against depositing their unaccounted old currency in someone else's bank account, saying such an act would attract criminal charges under the Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, applicable on both movable and immovable property.

Officials have said that numerous summons under the Benami Transactions Act have been issued and it is in the process of issuing more. The decision to slap the stringent provisions of the Benami Transactions Act was taken after analysing serious cases where the illegalities were blatant and suspect cash was deposited in either benami accounts or Jan Dhan or dormant accounts.

The crackdown stems from the 8 November note ban order in the wake of which the I-T Department had started an operation to identify suspect bank accounts where huge cash deposits have been made. Under the Act, the department can confiscate and prosecute both the depositor and the person whose illegal money has ''adjusted'' in their account.

An official told PTI, ''Such an arrangement where a person deposits old currency of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes in the bank account of another person with an understanding that the account holder shall return his money in new currency, the transaction shall be regarded as benami transaction under the said Act.''

He added, ''The person who deposits old currency in the bank account shall be treated as beneficial owner and the person in whose bank account the old currency has been deposited shall be categorised under this law as a benamidar.''

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