Cabinet gives nod to benami prohibitions bill

Cabinet gives  nod to benami prohibitions bill

 The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the new Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Bill that seeks to fight the menace of unaccounted wealth inside the country, especially in real estate.

“The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2015, provides for attachment and confiscation of benami properties and also fine with imprisonment. This is one more initiative to fight the menace of black money inside the country,” an official statement issued after the Cabinet meeting said.

The bill provides for stringent punishment to violators such as confiscation of wealth, imprisonment, and fine.

Benami implies buying immovable and other properties in others’ names to avoid tax and disclosure of ownership. The practice has been prevalent in India for decades and is considered one of the major causes of generation of black money. The Budget for 2015-16 had proposed a comprehensive bill on benami transactions.

Enables confiscation

“This law will enable confiscation of benami property and provide for prosecution, thus blocking a major avenue for generation and holding of black money in the form of benami property, especially in real estate,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said in his Budget speech.

“As a sequel to the budget announcement, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to amend the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988, by moving of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2015, in Parliament,” the statement said.

“The Department of Revenue in consultation with the Legislative Department has amended the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988,” it said.

The previous UPA government had introduced the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill in Parliament in 2011. It was then referred to the standing committee on finance, which submitted its report in June 2012. The Bill, however, lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. The new bill is expected to come up during the Monsoon session of Parliament, likely in July.

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