Benami Act violators to face rigorous imprisonment, and I-T charges

[] Indicating its intent to go after benami transactions, the Income Tax department has warned that violators would not only be charged under the Benami Property Transactions Act, which invites rigorous imprisonment of up to 7 years, but also under other existing provisions of the I-T Act

The Income Tax (I-T) department, has warned that those who undertake Benami transactions would invite rigorous imprisonment (RI) of up to 7 years and such violators would also stand to be charged under the normal I-T Act.

You are reading: Benami Act violators to face rigorous imprisonment, and I-T charges

In advertisements issued in leading national dailies on March 3, 2017, the I-T department stated: “Do not enter into benami transactions” as the Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, is now in action, from November 1, 2016.

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“Black money is a crime against humanity. We urge every conscientious citizen to help the government in eradicating it,” it said.

The department also spelled out some salient features of the new Act: “The benamidar (in whose name the benami property is standing), beneficiary (who actually paid the consideration) and persons who abet and induce benami transactions, are prosecutable and may get RI up to 7 years, besides being liable to pay fine up to 25% of the fair market value of the benami property.”

[] Benami assets: I-T books 230 cases, attaches assets worth Rs 55 crores

It added that “Persons who furnish false information to the authorities under the Benami Act, may be imprisoned up to 5 years, besides being liable to pay a fine of up to 10% of the fair market value of the benami property.”

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The department made it clear that the benami property may be attached and confiscated by the government and that these actions are in addition to actions under other laws, such as the Income Act, 1961.

A total of 235 cases and instances have been registered under the Benami Act by the department, till mid-February 2017. Show cause notices for attachment have been issued in 140 cases, where benami assets worth Rs 200 crores are involved. “In 124 cases, benami assets worth more than Rs 55 crores, have been provisionally attached till now,” an I-T report, accessed by PTI, had said. The attached assets, officials had said, include deposits in bank accounts, agricultural and other land, flats and jewellery, among others.

Post demonetisation on November 8, 2016, the I-T department had carried out public advertisements and had warned people against depositing their unaccounted old currency in someone else’s bank account. The I-T department is the nodal department to enforce the said Act in the country. The taxman had initiated a nationwide operation to identify suspect bank accounts, where huge cash deposits have been made post November 8, when the government demonetised the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

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