<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what is possibly the first such order under the amended Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction Act, 1988 for an offence committed during the period when the demonetization order was in force, the Adjudicating Authority under the Act has confirmed provisional attachment of assets seized as benami property.In its detailed order, the Authority, comprising Mukesh Kumar, Chairman, and Tushar V Shah, Member (Law) has ruled that the decision of the Initiating Officer under the Act to attach the property of the accused was “reasonable” and, therefore, upheld.In his reference made to the Adjudicating Authority, Maruti Wamanrao Maddewad, Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax (Benami Prohibition), had sought confirmation of the department’s action in provisionally attaching Rs 1.11 crore seized from a car, which was intercepted during a joint operation of the police and Income Tax authorities on December 15, 2016 at Pragati Nagar Naka, Oswal Nagari, Nalasopara (East), Palghar.More importantly, money recovered from the car included Rs 47 lakh in new Rs 2,000 notes, which were still scarce then. The two occupants of the car – Sudarshan Anand Sheregar and Dhananjay Vithal Gawde — coudn’t provide a convincing explanation about the source of the cash.Later, one of them told the authorities that the cash had been handed over to them by Pramod Mukund Dalvi of Virar (East), Mumbai.When confronted during a search-and-seizure, Dalvi denied ownership of the cash, claiming that the money had actually been delivered to his house for Gawde, who later collected it. On the other hand, both Gawde and Sheregar denied ownership of the money. During hearing before the Adjudicating Authority, neither Gawde nor Sheregar appeared. Gawde, incidentally, is a sitting Shiv Sena corporator.In its order, the Adjudicating Authority held that the fact showed that the money was “benami property”.The Centre had amended the Benami Property Transaction Act in April 2016, empowering the specified authorities to provisionally attach benami properties which can later be confiscated. The amended law also provides for jail term of upto seven years plus fine if the person is found guilty of offence of benami transaction by the competent court.
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