Byline: Aamir Yasin
RAWALPINDI -- As many as 77,513 kanals Benami (unregistered) properties worth Rs7.384 billion have been detected in the Rawalpindi division and their cases referred to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for further investigations in the light of Benami Act 2017.
Additional Deputy Commissioner Revenue Rizwan Qadeer told Dawn that Rawalpindi had become the first division in the country to initiate action against Benami properties by referring 49 cases and six references to the FBR for legal action against suspects, including PML-N Senator Chaudhry Tanveer and some private companies.
When contacted, Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood said 49 suspicious properties were identified by the district administrations of Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal and Jhelum till Dec 31, 2019. Besides, 22 Benami properties were identified by local citizens and reported to the provincial government and FBR.
He said so far six references regarding 7,000 kanals Benami land had been filed with FBR and these belonged to Senator Chaudhry Tanveer. The land was purchased in the names of his gunmen and servants.
Mr Mehmood said Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed deputy commissioners across the country to find Benami properties under their administrative control as they were custodians of the district revenue record.
He said under the law, districts had to send cases to the FBR for legal action. He said taxation deputy commissioners would further check the ownership and appeals would be submitted to the taxation commissioners. However, if he rejects objections the appeals could be filed before high courts.
The commissioner said the government had formed three zones of FBR to handle Benami property cases in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. The Islamabad office will check such properties in Rawalpindi division as well as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while Lahore will check cases of Punjab and Balochistan and Karachi will be responsible for cases from Sindh and some parts of Balochistan.
Details of properties were shared with FBR to bring the owners into the tax net after registering the properties in their names.
Tehsildars, patwaris and girdawars have been asked to verify properties registered in their offices and carry out surveys.
The commissioner said applications received by the government regarding Benami properties at the chief minister's complaint cell were being processed as per SOPs issued by the government.
'Rawalpindi has 14 suspicious Benami...