The income tax department has so far attached properties worth more than Rs 3,500 crore including immovable properties of more than Rs 2,900 crore under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, the department said in a press statement issued on Thursday.
In five cases, the provisional attachments of Benami properties, valued more than Rs 150 crore each, have been confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority. In one such case, it was established that a real estate company had acquired about 50 acre land valued at over Rs110 crore using names of persons of no means. This was corroborated from the sellers of the land as well as brokers involved. In another case, after demonetisation, two assessees were found depositing demonetised currency into multiple bank accounts in the names of their employees, associates etc.
The total amount attempted to be remitted to the beneficial owners was about Rs 39 crore. In yet another case, cash amount of Rs 1.11 crore was intercepted from a vehicle with a person who denied the ownership of this cash. Subsequently, no one claimed ownership of this cash and it was held to be benami property by the adjudicating authority.
The adjudicating authority under the Benami Act hears the cases referred to it by the initiating officer and decide such cases within a period of one year. The Benami Property Transactions Act came into force from 1 November, 2016. The Act provides for provisional attachment and subsequent confiscation of benami properties, whether movable or immovable. It also allows for prosecution of the beneficial owner, the benamidar and the abettor to benami transactions, which may result in rigorous imprisonment up to 7 years and fine up to 25% of fair market value of the property. The department set up 24 dedicated Benami Prohibition Units (BPUs) under its investigation directorates all over India in May, 2017 to ensure swift action in respect of Benami properties.