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Supreme Court stays Calcutta HC order which held that 2016 amendment to Benami Transaction Act is prospective

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the operation of the Calcutta High Court judgment which had held that the 2016 amendment to the Benami Transactions Act is prospective.

In December 2019, the Calcutta High Court had held that the 2016 amendment to the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 is prospective in nature.

This amendment to the Act, in addition to renaming the Act, lays down provisions concerning the attachment, confiscation, and vesting of benami property, among other things. The amendment also lays down provisions for punishments under the new Act for the offences concerning Benami property transactions.

The ruling of the Calcutta High Court, which had stated that this amendment would not have retrospective effect, has been challenged by the Centre before the Supreme Court. The Bench of Justices Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari, on Monday issued notice on Centre's petition and stayed the operation of the judgment.

Justices Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari
Justices Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari

The Centre, in its plea, has averred that the main 1988 Act provides for retrospective effect to the Act under Section 1(3), except for the amendments made to Sections 3, 5, and 8.The Calcutta High Court's decision does not appreciate this provision, the Centre argues.

Further it is argued by the Centre that the 2016 amendments were "clarificatory" in nature, and provide for procedural machinery for the Act.

It is well settled that provisions that affect procedural rights of parties can be introduced by the Legislature retrospectively.
Centre, in its SLP

The Supreme Court has admitted Centre's petition challenging the ruling of the High Court and issued notice on the same. The Centre was represented by Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi and Advocate Zoheb Hossain.

[Read Petition]

UOI vs Ganpati Dealcom (Benami Transactions).pdf
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[Read Order]

UOI vs Ganpati Dealcom - Feb 3, 2020.pdf
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