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 properties in rural areas measuring 16,009 kanals worth about Rs2.98 million, Attock 22 rural properties measuring 42,490 kanals worth Rs3.736m, Jhelum three rural properties measuring 17,447 kanals worth Rs0.591m and rural areas of Chakwal 10 properties measuring 1,567 kanals worth Rs67,219m,” added Additional Deputy Commissioner Revenue Rizwan Qadeer.
He said Senator Tanveer’s 7,000 kanals were detected in Sangral, Pind Malu, Ghangar, Dhodian and Ladian villages of Rawalpindi which were in the names of his driver, a gunman and other servants.
He said the district administration was tasked with identifying suspected Benami properties.
In Rawalpindi division, till Dec 31, 2019, as many as 49 suspicious Benami properties were identified and sent to FBR for initiating proceedings under the Benami Act 2017.
An officer after consulting complete revenue record, registered deeds, wealth statements and other relevant documents prepares a reference to be filed before the adjudicating authority within 90 days.
“So far across Pakistan, six references have been filed before adjudicating authority and all these are in the Rawalpindi district/division,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner Sibtain Kazmi told Dawn that a ban had been imposed on the sale and purchase of properties in five mouzas (villages) of Rawalpindi district - Sangral, Pind Zahoor, Ghangar, Sihal and Ladian.
“Land measuring 5,149 kanals and four marlas has been attached,” he said.
Meanwhile, the commissioner reviewed progress of work on detection of Benami properties in the four districts and directed deputy commissioners to clear their areas from such properties.
Deputy Commissioner Saifullah Dogar, Additional Deputy Commissioner Rana Rizwan Qadeer, AC Revenue Syed Sibtain Kazmi, Income Tax Officer Mohammad Fazil Mushtaq attended the meeting. The deputy commissioners of Attock, Jhelum and Chakwal attended the meeting via a video link.
Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2020