The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court has dismissed a writ petition filed by an alleged associate of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari against the recent attachment of a benami asset located in Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh.
The Income Tax department’s Lucknow-headquartered benami assets investigation unit had attached the property, located at Mauja Kapurpur NZA under Sadar Tehsil, in the said district after a provisional order was issued by it in April under the provisions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016.
The asset, a land bearing an estimated market value of about Rs 12 crore, was impounded by the tax department in May.
According to the I-T order, the ‘benamidar’ (in whose name a benami property is standing) in this case was identified as an alleged associate and neighbour of Ansari, Ganesh Dutt Mishra, while the “beneficial owner” was Ansari.
Benami means ‘no name’ or ‘without name’ and such properties are those in which the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name the property has been purchased.
Mishra, had on May 31, filed a writ petition before the HC and challenged the attachment order of the I-T department on the grounds that he was “not a benamidar of Ansari” as alleged by the department and that there was no reason for the taxmen to attach the property as there was already a stay order against its transaction (not be sold or purchased by anyone) issued by a civil court in Ghazipur in November, 2021 on the petition of another person who filed a suit against Mishra.
A division bench of Justices Jyotsna Sharma and Rajnish Kumar, in its order issued on June 9 accessed by PTI, said the writ petition filed by Mishra was on “misconceived and baseless grounds” and hence was dismissed.
Mishra had claimed in his petition that the I-T action was “arbitrary and baseless” and defended himself saying he was a businessman and “not a benamidar of property in question allegedly purchased by Mukhtar Ansari and all allegations made by the district authority and the Income Tax department are baseless and without substantial ground and not any single case has been proved whether the applicant (Mishra) is involved in any activity of Mukhtar Ansari”.
He also alleged that he was being “harassed” by authorities due to the proceedings being undertaken under the anti-benami law.
The attachment of this land parcel in Ghazipur is part of a “comprehensive” action undertaken by the tax department against Ansari and his associates under an operation codenamed ‘panther’.
The rejection of the plea by the HC, according to official sources, will bolster the department’s drive to attach about 22 more alleged benami properties of Ansari which are estimated to be having a market value of over Rs 100 crore.
Ansari faces 61 criminal cases in different states of which he has been convicted in six.
A Varanasi court, last week, awarded life sentence to him for murdering a Congress leader’s brother, Awadhesh Rai, more than 30 years ago. In April, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail by a court in Ghazipur under the Gangsters Act.
He is currently lodged in Banda jail of Uttar Pradesh.