Centre seeks review of SC verdict that struck down Benami Transactions Act provision
Under the provision, a person who entered into a benami transaction between September 5, 1988 to October 25, 2016 could face imprisonment of up to three years.
The Union government has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a review of a 2022 judgement that declared a provision of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act that dealt with jail terma under the law, as unconstitutional, Live Law reported.
On Tuesday, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud agreed to consider hearing the case in open court, according to The Hindu. Review petitions in the Supreme Court are generally heard in the judges’ chambers.
In August, the Supreme Court had declared Section 3(2) of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act as unconstitutional on account of being “manifestly arbitrary”. Under the provision, a person who entered into a benami transaction between September 5, 1988 to October 25, 2016 could be punished with imprisonment of up to three years.
The Supreme Court had held that the provision violated Article 20(1) of the Constitution, which states that no person can be convicted for an offence which was not in force at the time of the act.
The term benami refers to a transaction or contract held or carried out in the name of someone other than the person who has financed it.
The court had also ruled that the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act could not be applied retrospectively. The amendment had stated that any property that is the subject of a benami transaction can be confiscated by the Union government.
On Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, told the Supreme Court that the judgement from August struck down legal provisions that were not under challenge. “We seek an open court hearing of the review,” he said, according to Live Law. “Due to this judgment, a lot of orders are being passed across India even though some of the provisions of the Benami Act were not even under challenge.”
In October, the Delhi High Court had quashed proceedings initiated under the Act against Aam Aadmi Party leader Satyendar Jain, citing the Supreme Court judgement.