[dropcap]P[/dropcap]rime Minister Narendra Modi while speaking in his monthly radio address to the nation ‘Mann ki Baat’, made an effort to push consumers and traders towards embracing digital transactions. He announced the launch of two schemes — Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana. For the next 100 days, starting on Sunday, 15,000 people making digital payments will get Rs. 1,000 cashback in a daily lucky draw. He added that there will also be a weekly draw and the prize money will run into lakhs. Under the two schemes, the lucky draw will take place in 100 cities across the country. Traders adopting digital payment methods will get a tax rebate under the Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana scheme. He also said that out of the 30 crore debit/credit cards in the country, 20 crore of these are held by those belonging to lower and middle-income background. Illustrating the benefits of cashless transactions, PM Modi asserted that they will help in ending the exploitation faced by workers in the informal sector.
Modi also spoke about the Benami Property law that came into being in 1988, but neither its rules were framed, nor was it notified and laid dormant for years. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. Benami means “without name” or “no name”. In this Bill, the word is used to define a transaction in which the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name a property has been purchased. In an arrangement where a property is held by one person and amount for it is provided by another. The property is held for the benefit — direct or indirect — of the person paying the amount. After an order becomes final, the property or properties in question will be confiscated. These will be managed and disposed of by designated officers, who will be appointed from among income-tax officers. Benamidar, or the beneficial owner or any other person who abets any person to enter into such a transaction, will face rigorous punishment ranging from a year to seven years in jail. These persons will be liable for a fine of up to 25 per cent of the fair market value of the property. It will be a price that the property would ordinarily fetch on sale in the open market. In cases where the price is not ascertainable, another procedure will be prescribed.
There are a large number of benami dealings in land transactions. Data on such transactions is difficult to come by, and we expect the amendment to have an impact here. It is well-known that land transactions in India take an average of 1 to 2 years to complete. With outright purchase of land no longer viable for most developers, they adopt the joint-venture route. And sometimes, after prolonged discussions on revenue share and complicated interpretations of permissible floor space index (FSI), they find out that the land title was not clear. Clear ownership titles will hopefully see the light of day with the new amendments. These will help developers to quickly conclude joint venture transactions, which would open up land parcels for residential development. Exits by participating funds in these projects will also become quicker.
Even though, government takes any step further in tracing the Benami assets, it’s not very easy to nab these people. First, all the suspects may be listed and closely watched. Their personal information would be gathered (about their business, other sources of income, current properties etc). Then government may ask state government to find which person possesses land/property that exceeds more than a particular size. Subsequently, government may match both lists and conduct another surgical attack.
Those who buy property through known source of income in the names of their spouse or children, brothers and sisters or lineal ascendant or descendant where their names appear as joint owners in the document; a karta of the Hindu undivided family; and a person standing in fiduciary capacity for the benefit of another person, such as a trustee, executor, partner or director of a company, are excluded from the scope of the Bill, will not fall under Benami property act. Moreover, benami properties are mostly owned by politicians and bureaucrats who accept bribes from businessmen and industrialists by favouring them. It would be interesting to see how government will be able to catch them?
Anyway, coming back to Modi’s Mann Ki Baat, he asked people to go cashless, but as the month of December draws to a close, the rate of cybercrimes that was considerably low before demonetisation is rising sharply according to cybercrime officials. Following demonetisation, many people were forced to take to online payments to meet their daily needs. Mobile wallets like Paytm have witnessed a spike in their user base. Post-demonetisation of the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes, a majority of banks, mobile applications and e-wallets have been targeted by scamsters. Cyber fraud cases have witnessed a steady increase. Airing similar concerns, even experts from cyber security companies like Kaspersky Labs note that there has been a spurt in various programs and games, which have a modified virus strain or Trojan aimed at stealing credentials from more than 2,000 Android financial applications. Aptly dubbed the Faketoken, there have been over 16,000 victims from 27 countries, including India.
PM Modi might be intending to do well and fight corruption, but one need to realise that large number of population of India is still on streets and are illiterate. They are not tech savvy or experts in online transitions, whereas people holding black money are rich and resourceful. Before planning for any attack or amendment, common man of the country should be taken in to consideration by providing them basic education and training. There are many beggars and homeless in our country but the Modi government is not responsible towards them? Will they provide them with bank accounts and PoS machines? Testing the patience of honest, may be costly if limits are crossed.
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