Parliament passes Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2016
The Parliament has passed the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill after it was unanimously approved by Rajya Sabha.
The comprehensive amendment bill seeks to amend and strengthen Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 1988 in terms of legal and administrative procedure to curb domestic black money.
Key Features of Bill
- The Bill seeks to (i) Amend the definition of benami transactions to widen the scope for legal action (ii) Specify penalties for entering into benami transactions and (iii) establish adjudicating authorities and Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions.
- It add other transactions which qualify as benami, such as property transactions where: (i) the owner is not aware or denies knowledge of the ownership of the property, (ii) transaction is made in a fictitious name (iii) person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable.
- The Bill also adds provisions to establish an Appellate Tribunal in order to hear appeals against any orders passed by the Adjudicating Authority.
- Appeals against orders of the Appellate Tribunal will lie to the high court. The Bill specifies the penalty for providing false information.
- The punishment includes rigorous imprisonment ranging from 6 months up to 5 years, and a fine which may extend to 25% of the fair market value of the benami property.
- It also intends to effectively prohibit benami transactions and consequently prevent circumvention of law through unfair practices.
- It empowers the Union Government to confiscate benami property by following due procedure. Therefore it promotes equity across all citizens.
- The Bill provides immunity under the Benami Act to those who declare their benami properties under income declaration scheme.
In recent years the Union Government has taken various measures to curb the black money and the proposed legislation is one of them. It has been framed to tackle the menace black money by creating fear of law. However, the law does not cover benami property which is outside the country under it as it will be deemed as black money.