In a first of its kind crackdown, income tax officials have attached 24 benami properties worth around Rs 30 crore in Punjab.
Action was taken by the benami prohibition unit (BPU) of Punjab and Jammu Kashmir which is headed by Ludhiana-based principal directorate of income tax (investigation).
Officials told TOI that 22 of the attached properties belong to colonizers and real estate developers and were bought in the names of their employees or acquaintances.As many as 21 properties are in Ludhiana and are owned by a Ludhiana-based real estate developer group which has a project in Manakwal.
The biggest property attached is a 50-acre plot in Hoshiarpur which belongs to a real estate company and is priced at approximately Rs 15 crore.TOI has also learnt that the department has identified 50 more benami properties of which 40 are in Amritsar. The process of attaching the properties has started.
Sources told TOI that the owners of the properties attached in Ludhiana are five partners who had allegedly used black money to buy close to 100 kanal of land near Manakwal to develop a colony . They opened bank accounts in their employees’ names and operated them.After a tip-off by BPU, I-T officials found out that the financial condition of some of the employees in whose names properties were amassed was so miserable that they could not even afford a two-wheeler.
When the five partners were confronted by the department, they refused to admit that properties belonged to them. But a small mistake by them proved costly . The investigation wing was able to get hold of the application form of the accused which they had submitted to Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) for getting their colony approved and had shown themselves as the owners of the land.
The department has forwarded the details of attachment to the adjudicating authority in Delhi which will now take a call on confiscating the properties.
In the case of the property attached at Hoshiarpur, the woman in whose name benami property was purchased has given her statement to the department that she is not the real owner. This makes it easier for the department to get it confiscated.