The Centre is planning a massive crackdown on “benami” properties holders by using the information received from the general public. It has also declared rewards up to Rs 1 crore for those who could provide information that leads to tracing such benami properties. The Income Tax department has launched a new reward scheme—Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme, 2018— aimed at encouraging people to give information about benami transactions and properties as well as income earned on such properties by hidden investors and beneficial owners.
Under the scheme, a person can get reward up to Rs 1 crore for giving specific information to the Joint or Additional Commissioners of IT Department about benami transactions and properties. Foreigners will also be eligible for the rewards. A Ministry of Finance official assured that strict confidentiality will be maintained and the identity of the persons giving information will not be disclosed. Cracking the whip on benami properties, the Centre has made provisional attachments in more than 1,500 cases of properties under the Benami Property Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, involving more than Rs 4,300 crore.
The official said that more people having benami properties are on the radar and action is being initiated against them. Jaipur and Mumbai top the list of cities, each with an attachment of 200 properties, followed by Bhopal (190), Kolkata (144), Chandigarh (110), Hyderabad (100) and Delhi (90). At 30, Patna has seen the least number of property attachments, added the official. The attachments under the Act, which came into force on 1 November 2016, include plots of land, flats, shops, jewellery, vehicle, deposits in bank accounts and fixed deposits etc.