Outlawing Benami property transactions

One of the ways to camouflage corrupt practices is to invest the ill gotten money in properties in fictitious or assumed names or in the names of relatives and acquaintances. It also includes any proceeds from such property. As Jammu and Kashmir State is one of the leading states in respect of being infested with corruption , Benami transactions and properties acquired in this manner have, not only grown horizontally and vertically, but they have remained mostly unchecked . It is , however, debatable as to who have been in the forefront or indirectly proving inimical to any efforts and arrangements to contain , if not totally eradicate, the taking place of Benami transactions and thus such properties being registered in “Benamidars” though belonging to the beneficial owners for all practical purposes. It is, however, heartening to note that we are poised in this State, now to have a deterrent provision in the shape of a law to prohibit such disguised property transactions as also any proceeds thereof in the form of rentals , royalties, or any other form of pecuniary benefits. The offenders could, now get a jail term of up to seven years and a fine of 25 per of the property’s value.
In this connexion, making a departure from the sort of status quo ante of “touch me not” approach which called the shots this far, the State Administrative Council (SAC) has given a cue and an indication for enactment of a stringent law to prohibit Benami property transactions in Jammu and Kashmir State. These properties raised under such surreptitious manner, have assumed alarming proportions in the state leading to looking at the political class by the common people with sceptical eyes as politicians all these years have proved , more or less, chary of major and innovative reforms in this respect except of course, indulging in empty rhetoric on important national events or else what accounts for there being no stringent law to deal with such dubious and thieving activities.
Once this law is duly enacted , it will prove as a vital tool in the hands of the Government and its various designated agencies, to tighten the noose around corrupt officials and corrupt politicians who, as per definite reports both with the concerned agencies as also with the watchful eyes of the public, have invested hundreds of crores of Rupees in real estate business through such routes which, as on date, are without any effective laws to deal with. However, an exercise was done in this respect to the extent of a law having been passed by the state legislature in the year 2010 but the same could not show its results as it was not implemented all these years because of various ambiguities in it which resulted in not framing of the desired rules.
It is a matter of satisfaction that the Governor has already passed necessary directions to the Department of Law , Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to draft the Jammu and Kashmir Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Bill after minutely examining the provisions of the Act of 2016. Let us not go in for any type of evasive and other negative ways to frustrate or circumvent the current efforts to strike at corruption in whatever shape it raises its ugly head up but strengthen the concerned state apparatus. Similarly, whether by the Governor’s administration or by the popular Government’s efforts, Benami Property Transactions must be fought out lock, stock and barrel resolutely, firmly and assertively.