The Pinnacle Court rules that benami law can not be applied retrospectively

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The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ruled that the Benami law can only be applied prospectively and not retrospectively, and held section 3(2) of the Act “unconstitutional”. 

Several businesses are awaiting this verdict on the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, which came into effect on Hallowmass, 2016.

The apex court held that there's only prospective effect of the 2016 Act and, thus, all the actions taken before the amendment are put aside.

Section 3 of the Act, which the court held “unconstitutional”, says any individual who enters into any benami transaction shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which can reach three years or with fine or with both.

The Bench, led by jurist of India NV Ramana, delivered the judgment following a plea preferred by the Centre against a Calcutta state supreme court order holding that the 2016 Amendment Act was prospective in nature. The copy of the judgment is awaited.

The new Act expanded the definition of the transactions classified as benami and imposed stiff penalties that put many firms and individuals under the scanner because it had been used retrospectively.

The tax department had issued thousands of notices for cash transfers, property deals for earlier periods under the law.