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Centre moves SC, seeks open court hearing on plea for review of verdict on Benami law

The top court, on August 23 last year, had struck down some provisions of the Benami law.

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Supreme Court
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The Centre on Tuesday sought from the Supreme Court an open court hearing on its plea seeking review of the judgement by which several provisions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 were struck down.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha was urged by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, that the review plea be heard in open court keeping in mind the importance of the issue.

“This is an unusual request. We seek an open court hearing of the review. Due to this judgement, a lot of orders are being passed even though some of the provisions of the Benami Act was not even under challenge. Like the retrospectivity could not have been looked into (by the SC bench),” the top law officer said.

“We will consider it,” the CJI said.

The top court, on August 23 last year, had struck down some provisions of the Benami law.

One of the struck down provisions provided for the punishment of a maximum jail term of three years or a fine or both for those indulging in ‘benami’ transactions.

The apex court had termed the provision as “unconstitutional” on the ground of being “manifestly arbitrary”.

It had also held that the amended Benami law of 2016 did not not have retrospective application and the authorities cannot initiate or continue criminal prosecution or confiscation proceedings for transactions entered into prior to the coming into force of the legislation.

The apex court had also said that section 3(2) and section 5 of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 were vague and arbitrary.

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