Topic: Section 4. Prohibition of the right to recover property held benami

(1) No suit, claim or action to enforce any right in respect of any property held benami against the person in whose name the property is held or against any other person shall lie by or on behalf of a person claiming to be the real owner of such property.

(2) No defence based on any right in respect of any property held benami, whether against the person in whose name the property is held or against any other person, shall be allowed in any suit, claim or action by or on behalf of a person claiming to be the real owner of such property.

(3) Nothing in this section shall apply -

(a) where the person in whose name the property is held is a coparcener in a Hindu undivided family and the property is held for the benefit of the coparceners in the family; or

(b) where the person in whose name the property is held is a trustee or other person standing in a fiduciary capacity, and the property is held for the benefit of another person for whom he is a trustee or towards whom he stands in such capacity.

COMMENTS

(i) Sub-section (1) of section 4 has no application to the claim made in the suit as this is not a suit filed by or on behalf of defendant No.1 against defendant No.2 or the legal representatives of defendant No..2, instead it is a suit filed by a third party for specific performance of the suit contract against the real owner as well as benamidar, Murlidhar Bapuji Valve v. Yallappa Lalu Chaugule, AIR 1994 Bom 358.

(ii) The defence raised by the contesting respondents that the transaction of the sale under the sale deed dated 9th October, 1957 executed in favour of the appellants was a benami transaction is prohibited in view of section 4(2) of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988; Duvuru Mohand Reddy v. Alluru Nagi Reddy, AIR 1994 SC 1647.

(iii) The defence taken by the defendant that the plot in fact was purchased by him in the name of his brother i.e. the plot was purchased benami, cannot be allowed by virtue of section 4 (2) of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988; Om Prakash Rawal v. Justice Amrit Lal Bahri, AIR 1994 HP 27.

(iv) Under section 88 of Indian Trusts Act, an agent or other person bound is in a fiduciary character to protect the interest of the principal and the former would hold the property for the benefit of the principal or the person in whose behalf he acted as an agent. Held that a real purchaser is the respondent, the petitioner as an agent and power of attorney had purchased the property but ostensibly had his name entered in the sale certificate fraudulently and without consent of the principal and the question of benami does not arise though section 4 prohibits such a plea; P. V. Sankara Karup v. Leelavathy Nambiar, AIR 1994 SC 2694.

(v) A coparcenery is purely a creature of law and it cannot be created by act of parties whereas a composite family is the result of an agreement express or implied. There are incidents to the constitution of a composite family, but all incidents are consequences of the agreement between the parties. Held that exception is section4(3) could not be attracted in the present case of an alleged composite family; B. Rajagopal Reddy v. Padmini Chandrasekharan, AIR 1990 Mad 353.

(vi) On coming into force of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, defence raised for the proof of the fact that the property held by a person is in the capacity of a benamidar is expressly prohibited. Neither the court is permitted in law to consider such defence nor to record its findings. Held that the Income-tax Deptt. would be prohibited from raising a defence that the suit property held by the wife is benami and the real owner is her husband; Smt. Khateeja Bai v. Union of India, AIR 1994 NOC 136 MP.

(vii) The plaintiff cannot lay any claim in view of section 4 to the house on the ground that they stand in the name of step mother benami for her deceased father, Baghyavathi v. Lakahmikathammal, AIR 1993 Mad 346.

(viii) The burden of showing that a transfer is a benami transaction lies on the person who asserts that is such a transaction. The governing principal for determining the question whether a transaction is benami or not is to be proved by showing that the purchase money came from a person other than the person in whose favour the property is transferred . The intention of the person who contributed towards the money has to be inferred from the circumstances and the relationship of the parties and the motive governing their action in bringing about the transaction and their subsequent conduct; Mahinder Singh v. Pardaman Singh, AIR 1992 Del 357.

(ix) In view of section 4, there is a total prohibition against any suit based on benami transaction and the plaintiff-respondent is not entitled to get any decree in such suit or in appeal, an appeal being a constitution of suit and in the present case the appeal was pending before this court. In s suit for recovery of benami property if any appeal is pending on the date of coming into force of section 4 the appellant court can take inot account the subsequent legislative changes; Om Prakash v. Jai Prakah, AIR 1992 SC 885.

(x) Section 4 of the Benami Transaction (Prohibition ) Act, must be taken to relate of section 2 of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition of the Right to Recover Property) Ordinance, 1988. It is clear that in spite of the recommendation of the Law Commission of India to bar institution of suits only, the Ordinance making authority has thought if it to bar other proceedings also and has also provided in express words barring of all claims and actions to enforce the right of a person alleging to be the real owner against the benemidar. The Legislature by using the expression ‘shall lie’ made departure from the usual expression ’shall be institute’ clearly demonstrate its resolve to regulate all such suits, claims or actions also which would be lying in the court on the date of its commencement; Urmila Bala Dasi v. Probodh Chandra Ghosh, AIR Cal 283.

(xi) The expression any property held benami is not limited to any particular time, date or duration i.e. the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 is retrospective in operation. Once the property is found to have been held benami no suit, claim or action to enforce any right in respect thereof shall lie. Sub-section (2) of section 4 similarly nullifies the defences based on any right in respect of any property held benami. Section 4 in its sweep envisages past benami transaction also within its retroactivity. In this sence the Act is both a penal and a disqualifying statute. Held that as the appeal was pending in Supreme Court on commencement of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988, the matter becomes sub-judice and thereafter the ‘Supreme Court’ had seisin of the whole case and the decree passed by the lower courts annihilated and the suit dismissed; Mithilesh Kumari v. Prem Behari Khare, AIR 1989 SC 1247.

(xii) The benamidar before the enactment of Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 could not have any right, title and interest in the property which the benamidar could convey. By the principle of fictional relation back as propounded by the Supreme Court in Mithlesh Kumari, the benamidar should be deemed to have title to the property on the date he executed the deed or release. Held that Surendra Kumar was the benamidar and in point of act on the date of execution of the deed of release he had no right or interest in the property; Ratanlal Bansilal v. Kishorilal Goenka, AIR 1993 Cal 144.

(xiii) It has been held that the suit is not hit by sections 2 and 4 of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 as the plaintiff has not alleged that the defendant No 1 i.e. one of the partners was or is a benamidar or that the money was paid by the plaintiff or that the property was purchased in the name of the defendant No.1 as benamidar apart from that the under section 14 and 15 of the Partnership Act, a partnership can acquire asserts in the name of partners and these sections have not been deleted by the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988; Md. Hasan Hashmi v. Smt. Kaberi Roy, AIR 1993 Cal 70.

(xiv) Section 4 takes into its ambit the right of a real owner vis-à-vis ostensible owner. The prohibition under section 4(1) and (2) does not prohibit the right of a third party to get a declaration. The third party has the right to raise the contention that someone was the real transferee and the sale deed was only executed in the name of the transferee who was a benamidar, Gopal Bariha v. Satyanarayan Das, AIR 1991 Ori 131.

(xv) Section 2 of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition of the Right to Recover Property) Ordinance, 1988 relates to section 4 of the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 1988 and according to section 2 of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition of the Right to Recover Property) Ordinance, 1988, action means a civil proceeding commenced by "writ" or in such other manner, as may be prescribed by rules of court but does not include a criminal proceeding, therefore the term "action" is wide enough to take in an appeal or a second appeal; Velayudhan Ramkrishan v. Rajeev, AIR 1989 Ker 12.

(xvi) In the context and setting of section 4 the word ‘held ‘ has to be understood as "possessed or occupied". If the possession or occupation is not benami, section 4 can have no application and as a sham transaction or bipartite transaction is not a benami. Section 4 does not apply to such a transaction; Ouseph Chacko v. Raman Nair, AIR 1989 Ker 317.

(xvii) Section 4 and 7 of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 relate to sections 2 and 4 of the Benami Transactions(Prohibition of the Right to Recover Property) Ordinance, 1988. Both section 7 of the Benami Act and section 4 of the Benami Ordinance repeal section 82 of the Trusts Act keeping section 81 of the Trusts Act intact. Keeping in view section 81 of Trusts Act nominal transactions are not intended to be covered and are not hit by section 4;B. Rayudu, AIR 1989 AP 290.