Government officials on Tuesday said President Pranab Mukherjee has given his nod to the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, to curb black money in the real estate sector, reported PTI. According to the new law, people caught with 'benami' (nameless) properties will get up to seven years of rigorous imprisonment and have to pay a hefty fine. Besides, these properties – both movable and immovable – will be confiscated.

The Act defines a transaction as ‘benami’ when property is held by one person, but has been provided or paid for by another person. The new law, which has replaced the Benami Transactions Act of 1988, states that the offender will have to serve at least one year of rigorous imprisonment that may go up to seven years and the fine to be paid may extend up to 25% of the market value of the property.

Apart from the offender, a person may also face rigorous imprisonment for up to five years for knowingly giving false information and will have to pay a fine that may be 10% of the market value of the property. The old law stipulated that an offender may face imprisonment for up to three years, or a fine, or both.

The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha last year. After that, it was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance. The Lower House finally passed the Bill on July 27 this year and Rajya Sabha approved it on August 2.