ZT News Network

JAMMU, DEC 9: In a significant decision, Jammu & Kashmir’s State Administrative Council (SAC) under the chairmanship of Governor, Satya Pal Malik has approved the ‘Jammu and Kashmir Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Bill, 2018’.

The Bill is a comprehensive law aimed at tackling Benami transactions in the State. The Bill provides for creation of the requisite administrative structure for enforcement of the law and empowers the Designated Authorities to attach and confiscate any property which is held to be Benami, an official statement said today.

Panel provisions incorporated in the Act provide for imprisonment of persons found guilty of offence of Benami transactions which shall not be less than one year extendable to seven years, besides fine equivalent to 25% of the market value of the property can also be imposed.

According to legal experts, the extension of this law to J&K could have far-reaching implications for people holding properties in benami, including major income tax and other legal scrutinies for the properties held.

What is benami property?

Benami in Urdu means without name. So, a property bought by an individual not under his or her name is benami property. It can include property held in the name of spouse or child for which the amount is paid out of known sources of income. A joint property with brother, sister or other relatives for which the amount is paid out of known sources of income also falls under benami property.

The transaction involved in the same is called benami transaction. As a usual practice, to evade taxation, people invest their black money in buying benami property. The real owner of these properties are hard to trace due to fake names and identities.

The person on whose name the property is purhcased is called benamdar. The benami transactions include buying assets of any kind — movable, immovable, tangible, intangible, any right or interest, or legal documents.

Is this law passed for rest of the country?

The union government has already enacted the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 which provides for rigorous imprisonment of up to seven years, and a fine which may extend to 25 per cent of the fair market value of the benami property.

It also empowers the government to confiscate deposits of people using others accounts to convert unaccounted wealth into white money.

Have any actions been taken so far against benami property holders?

As on June 30, 2018, provisional attachments have been made in more than 1,600 benami transactions involving benami properties valued at over Rs 4,300 crore in the country, Rajya Sabha was informed in August this year.