I-T at­taches ₹1,300 crore prop­er­ties in nine months

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - NATION - Suchetana Ray let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: The tax depart­ment has at­tached 381 prop­er­ties across the coun­try, worth over ₹1,300 crore in the first nine months since the Be­nami Trans­ac­tions (Pro­hi­bi­tion) Act was no­ti­fied for im­ple­men­ta­tion on Novem­ber 1, 2016.

Most of the at­tached prop­er­ties are in Tamil Nadu, fol­lowed by Ra­jasthan, Mum­bai, Gu­jarat and Delhi. Be­nami prop­er­ties are those that are held through prox­ies of the real owner.

Data shows that the max­i­mum be­nami trans­ac­tions that have been de­tected and are un­der probe are in Gu­jarat fol­lowed by Kar­nataka, Goa, Tamil Nadu, and Ra­jasthan.

When it comes to valu­a­tion of prop­er­ties, West Ben­gal tops the list, where 28 prop­er­ties worth ₹478.87 have been at­tached. In Mum­bai, 58 prop­er­ties worth ₹336.87 crore have been at­tached, tak­ing the to­tal value of at­tach­ments to ₹1,353.38 crore.

The re­gion lead­ing with max­i­mum prop­erty at­tach­ments are Tamil Nadu fol­lowed by Ra­jasthan and Mum­bai. Of the 381 at­tach­ments, 66 are in Tamil Nadu, 62 in Ra­jasthan and 58 in Mum­bai.

These num­bers are sig­nif­i­cant since the Be­nami Act was first no­ti­fied in 1988. But till the en­force­ment was en­hanced with more teeth in the Act in Novem­ber 2016, there wasn’t a sin­gle at­tach­ment. “These fig­ures are in keep­ing with the tax depart­ment’s and gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus on fight­ing cor­rup­tion and weed­ing out black money,” said a top of­fi­cer in the Cen­tral Bureau of Di­rect Taxes who did not wish to be quoted. There are 627 more cases that are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the tax depart­ment. Gov­ern­ment data shows that the en­force­ment against be­nami as­sets is gain­ing mo­men­tum. Till July, 286 at­tach­ments were done but by the end of Au­gust the num­ber has surged to 381. Re­cently, the tax depart­ment passed the fi­nal or­ders for at­tach­ing as­sets of RJD chief Lalu Ya­dav’s daugh­ter Misa Bharti. NCP leader Ch­ha­gan Bhu­j­pal’s be­nami as­sets and ac­tion against them had also hit head­lines in the past few months. But tax of­fi­cers say that the 381 cases so far in­clude peo­ple from all pro­fes­sions, not only politicians. Cre­ation of sep­a­rate teams to dredge out be­nami prop­er­ties have led to bet­ter en­force­ment of the Act, said se­nior tax of­fi­cials. These teams are called be­nami pro­hi­bi­tion units (BPU) and there are 24 such teams across the coun­try. Each team has at least five mem­bers.

“We will set up more BPUs in the fu­ture. To en­sure bet­ter ac­tion against be­nami prop­er­ties, tax au­thor­i­ties have been asked to share all rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion with BPUs, as they scan in­come tax re­lated in­for­ma­tion of peo­ple,” said an­other tax of­fi­cer who did not wish to be named.

Sources said that of­fi­cers of other agen­cies such as CBI, en­force­ment di­rec­torate, fi­nan­cial in­tel­li­gence unit and cen­tral bureau ex­cise and cus­toms have also been sen­si­tised for timely shar­ing of in­for­ma­tion for crack­down on be­nami prop­er­ties.

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