Pranab introduces bill to curb 'benami' deals

In a fresh effort to check wheeling and dealing with illegally obtained 'black' money, the government on Thursday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to check the parking of such money in 'benami' properties.

Finance minister Pranab MukerjeeUnder the provisions of the 'benami transaction (prohibition) bill 2011', any property declared benami by the union government can be confiscated without compensation, along with other penalties.

These could range from a fine of up to 25 per cent of the market value of the property to imprisonment for up to two years, or both.

'Benami' implies property paid for by one person but held by another person for the benefit of the payee in a fictitious deal.

The bill exempts property held in the name of a spouse, brother or sister, or any lineal ascendant or descendant. Property held in a fiduciary relation or as the head of a Hindu undivided family is also exempt.

The new bill seeks to repeal the existing Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act 1988, which was never fully implemented because its provisions did not go far enough. For instance, it did not have any provision for the government to confiscate such property.