In another resolute decision in his first tenure, Prime Minister Modi hints at a crackdown on ‘benami’ properties, diffusing panic among several ‘benamdars’, including the opposition party. Congress seems worried as assets held by many of the party leaders, classified under such category is now under scrutiny and seemingly will not be spared.
Decoding Benami property: Benami essentially refers to property without a name. Under such transactions, the person who pays for the property does not buy it in his/her name. The person on whose name the property is falsely bought is known as the ‘benamdar’ and the property so purchased is referred to as the ‘benami’ property.
Benami property constitutes such property that does not fall under any of the following criteria:
- Property held in the name of spouse or child for which the amount is paid from known sources of income
- A joint property with siblings or other relatives for which the amount is paid from known sources of income
- Property held by someone in a fiduciary capacity.
A brief glimpse of the existing laws against benami properties are as follows:
- The first act against benami properties was passed as the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988. The original act was brought out for amendment by the current government in July 2016 as a measure to curb black money.
- Post amendment, the Act was reinstated on November 1, 2016 as Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act 2016. This Act defines benami transactions and prohibits them. PBPT Act further provides that any violation of this Act is punishable with imprisonment and fine under the court of law.
- Moreover, the PBPT Act also prohibits the real owner from recovering such property held as benami from benamdar. Properties held benami are liable to be confiscated by the Government even without payment of any compensation.
The strike came as a cutting attack on the corruption relayed by the opposition party at an election rally in Sundernagar. Modi said that Congress’ campaign against demonetization was driven by its attempts to mislead people before the government raised an alarm over benami assets. He said, “The time has come to return to the poor what had been robbed of them…. I am going to create a situation that they (Congress leaders) would not be able to reclaim their benami assets.” Modi retorted to Congress’ decision to observe the demonetisation anniversary on November 8 as black day, by saying that it is rather “blackmoney day” for the opposition party and that they will not be able to restrain him from going ahead with this plan.
Stating that he is a disciple of Sardar Patel, Modi sent across the message that he will not be intimidated by the tactics of Congress by rallying or protesting. Modi claimed that there are several Congress leaders who would have purchased both movable and immovable assets like cars and houses in the name of their house helps like that of butlers and drivers. Modi added, “I am going to create a situation that they would not be able to reclaim it. This is people’s money. This has been robbed of the masses and would be used for their welfare.”
Regaining his confidence from being people’s elected representative in 2014 Modi at a rally in Kangra emphasized that he would continue fighting corruption in serving the country’s citizens and changing India’s fate. He scorned the opposition’s crusade against demonetization stating that God has bestowed the opposition party “wisdom” which he can put to use. He proclaimed that opposed to the poor and middle class, it were the dishonest people who were angry with his bold steps as they wanted to avenge the measures towards forceful deposition of their black money into banks. Modi said, “Indians would not trust the Congress even after 100 years, such are its sins.” Drawing similarity to Congress, the PM claimed that the opposition party was infested with termites and urged people to varnish the opposition’s existence by handing over 3/4th majority to the BJP in the November slotted Assembly elections.
Article by Rochita.