As a parliamentary panel began a review of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, which aims to curb the routing of black money through dubious real estate transactions, some lawmakers expressed concerns that its enactment could lead to a new era of inspector raj.
At the meeting of the standing committee of finance on Thursday, Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy asked if, instead of a new bill, modifying the income tax laws could serve the purpose.
The bill to amend benami transactions, in a bid to thwart people who buy properties in others’ names to dodge taxes and disclosure of ownership, was a key, albeit unfinished, agenda of the UPA government.
After the UPA’s bill lapsed at the end of the previous Lok Sabha, the NDA government introduced a new one. The bill aims to fight corruption and purge the menace of domestic unaccounted wealth that’s especially rampant in real estate.
Revenue secretary Shaktikanta Das and Anita Kapur, chief of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, briefed the lawmakers on the bill while maintaining it was another step towards reining in black money.
Bhartruhari Mahtab of the Biju Janata Dal, however, asked who the final authority would be in deciding if a transaction was benami or not that as three to four investigating agencies were tracking black money.
He also expressed scepticism on the aspect of coordination between the agencies.
In the meeting, panel chairman Veerappa Moily suggested that the law should target public servants like bureaucrats and ministers and the agencies should not try to harass common people.