What major steps will Modi govt take post 30 December in the war against corruption ?

The deadline to deposit the old demonetized notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 will end on 30 December. The government has already said that it is not going to extend the deadline for depositing old currency notes. Post 30 December, Prime Minister is all set to wage a war on Benami Properties. PM Narendra Modi has quietly plugged a tax loophole used by the wealthy to buy real estate in someone else’s name as part of his campaign against corruption.
As per Reuters, the Income Tax department is expected to step up scrutiny of real estate assets with suspicious titles and attack Benami properties.

The law, called the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, which came into effect on Nov. 1, says people who hold assets that don’t actually belong to them could face up to seven years in jail, besides seizure of the property. “This (raids and recovery of benaami properties) is our priority for next year,” said the official, requesting anonymity as unauthorized to speak to the media. The government is also planning to take digitisation of land/property records so that all benaami properties come to the light of investigation agencies.

Another step that PM Modi plans to take post 30 December is banning the possession of old currency notes. If the reports are to be believed, the government is planning to make the possession of 500 and 1000 rupees notes illegal. It is speculated that the government is mulling to issue an ordinance to impose penalties on anyone possessing the demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes beyond December 30 when the deadline to deposit them in banks expires.

It is said that the issue will be discussed in the cabinet meeting tomorrow and an ordinance may then be issued. The government is planning to impose penalties on anyone possessing more than 10 notes each of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination. The ordinance may also end the liability of the government and Reserve Bank of India towards the promise to pay the bearer of these notes their value because of a statutory requirement, which means the notes can not be deposited even in the banks. As per the reports, there could be an upper limit of holding a maximum of 10 old notes of each Rs 500 and Rs 1000 after December 30. Also, any violation of the rule could result in a minimum fine of Rs 50,000 or 5 times the amount in question, whichever is higher. However, confirmation is still awaited.

So, it seems the new year 2017 will be a tough year for all those who have unaccounted wealth either in cash or in form of benaami properties, as govt is all set to continue its relentless campaign against the corrupt and the dishonest. The Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate is not only expected to increase their raids on unaccounted cash and gold, but also start raids to seize benaami properties. 2017 will be a crucial year in the war against corruption.

Kshitij Mohan