Inordinate delay in framing rules creates impediments
JAMMU, Aug 1: Though Jammu and Kashmir is still in the tight grip of corruption yet Government has failed to implement Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, which was enacted eight years back as an important tool in the anti-corruption mechanism. The inordinate delay in putting in operation the legislation has given free hand to corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and police officers to make huge benami investments particularly in the real estate.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that Jammu and Kashmir Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act was enacted by the State Legislature on March 2, 2010 and the same received the assent of the Governor on April 20, 2010.
The Act not only prohibits benami transactions but also gives a right to the Government to seize the benami properties without any payment as such it was considered to be vital tool to be used by the agencies fighting the menace of corruption particularly State Vigilance Organization.
In the Act, it has specifically been mentioned that the Government, by notification in the gazette, will make rules for carrying out the purpose of the legislation, which was drafted after deeply analyzing the Central Act on benami transactions.
“However, during the past eight years Government has failed to frame the rules, which otherwise is an imperative exercise, and due to this the legislation could not be made operational till date”, sources said, adding since vigilance administration comes under the purview of General Administration Department it was exclusive duty of those who remained at the helm of affairs in this department during the past eight years to act on Section 9 of the Act, which confers powers to make rules.
Because of absolute slackness on the part of General Administration Department, on one side State Vigilance Organization has been deprived of vital tool to fight corruption and on the other side corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and police officers have been given free hand to make huge benami transactions in real estate, sources said.
“Had rules been framed as per the provision of the Act, the Vigilance Organization would have started making use of this law to tighten noose around the corrupt elements in the State administration”, they further said while disclosing that during the past one decade or more corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and police officers have invested crores of rupees in the real estate business across Jammu and Kashmir through benami transactions by obtaining the benefit of non-implementation of the Act.
“Because of inability of the Government to implement the law the real estate business has turned out to be heaven for bureaucrats and police officers with black money”, sources further said.
When asked about the reasons for inordinate delay in implementation of Act, they said that earlier there was no plausible ground behind inaction on the part of General Administration Department and now it is claimed that since Act was drafted on the lines of Central Act and the same was amended by the Parliament in 2016 the entire issue is required to be looked into from the prism of amendments made in the Central law.
“There is no justification in going through the amendments made in the Central Act before framing rules as State Act was enacted by the Legislature after thorough debate and by keeping in mind all the aspects”, sources said.
It is pertinent to mention here that J&K Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2010 states: Whosoever enters into any benami transaction shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years or with fine which may extend up to Rs 5 lakh or with both.
“Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, an offence under this law shall be non-cognizable and non-bailable. All properties held benami shall be subject to acquisition by the Government and no amount shall be payable for the acquisition of any property”, the Act further read.