The Income Tax (I-T) Department attached assets worth Rs 18,400 crore under the Benami Transaction Prohibition Act 1988, till July 31, as reported by BusinessLine. On August 23, the Supreme Court declared the retrospective use of the amended act unconstitutional. The amendments that came in 2016, can only apply on the transactions made before October 24, 2016.
In reply to a RTI filed by BusinessLine, I-T department said that in 2,967 cases assets have been attached and the records do not have segregated data for transactions made before and after October 24.
Till July 31, the I-T department had issued notices in 3,175 cases amounting to Rs 19,222 crore. Assets have been attached in 2,967 cases and are worth Rs 18,401 crore. In 125 cases, prosecution complaints have been filed, I-T department said. There is no clarity on how many such cases are of earlier dates than October 24, according to BusinessLine report.
In 2016, an amendment under the Benami Transaction Prohibition Act 1988 was made that allowed criminal proceedings to be conducted retrospectively. On August 23, however, the Supreme Court declared that the provisions of the act cannot be applied retrospectively on transactions entered before October 25, 2016.
The news report quoted Ashish K Singh, managing partner with Capstone Legal, saying that once the provision has been declared unconstitutional, there is no scope for interpretation left with the department.
“If the prosecution is continued illegally, the aggrieved person has the right to approach constitutional courts seeking remedies,” Singh told BusinessLine .
The Supreme Court struck down Section 3 (2) of the Act that mandated punishment of three years imprisonment for those who entered into Benami transactions between September 5, 1988, and October 25, 2016. The provision could earlier put a person behind bars for a transaction they did 28 years ago.