A benami property can be solely bought for personal benefit



I had bought a flat and added my wife as a joint holder, but she did not make any payment towards it. In my Will, can I bequeath 100% of the property, or since my wife is the joint holder, only 50%?

—Ravindra Gupta

As per the provisions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988, when a property is transferred to a person for a consideration, paid or provided by another person, then such a transaction is known as a benami transaction.

The person in whose name the property is recorded, becomes the real owner and the person who actually paid the consideration is prohibited from bringing any kind of action to recover such property. Benami transactions are prohibited by law and are punishable under the Act.

But an exception is given under section 3(2) of the Act, for transactions where the property is purchased by any person in the name of his wife or unmarried daughter. Section 3(2) also provides that, unless the contrary is proved, there is a presumption that such property had been purchased by such person for the benefit of the wife or the unmarried daughter.

Thus, a person who has purchased such a property in the name of his wife or unmarried daughter can, by appropriate evidence, prove that the property was not purchased for the benefit of his wife or unmarried daughter, and assert his true ownership rights in the property.

So, if the husband is able to prove that the property he purchased, in his wife’s name, is for his sole benefit, then he can claim the property completely, and can dispose it as per his wish. (Please see Nand Kishore Mehra v. Sushila Mehra (AIR 1995 SC 2145) and Nand Kishore Mehra v. Sushila Mehra (80 (1999) DLT 670.)

In such a situation, the intention of the husband will be ascertained from the surrounding facts and circumstances, to determine the real ownership. Some of these would be: the source of purchase money; the nature and possession of the property, after the purchase; the motive or reason for giving the transaction a benami colour; the custody of title deeds after the sale; and the conduct of parties concerned in dealing with the property after the sale, including whether the husband accounted for the property in his own tax returns and not that of his wife.

Thus, if you are able to prove that the property was not purchased for the benefit of your wife, and it was always intended that the real ownership lies with you, you would have the right to bequeath the entire property in your Will to a person of your choice. You should specifically state in your Will that the property was purchased out of your personal funds and that your wife’s name was added only for convenience and not purchased for her benefit.

Maintain appropriate records that are available to your executor and heirs, to prove your real ownership of the property, if your Will is challenged.


Here’s why Microsoft bought SwiftKey for $250 million—artificial intelligence

Photo: BloombergPhoto: Bloomberg

New Delhi: On Tuesday, London-based predictive technology company SwiftKey said it has joined the Microsoft family. The deal, first reported by the Financial Times, is believed to be around $250 million.

SwiftKey, for most smartphone users, comes through as just another third-party keyboard app, an upgrade on the default keyboard that most platforms offer—easier to swipe and therefore, easier to type. But beyond the app and its user interface, what the company offers, and something that makes it attractive for the likes of Microsoft, is the very technology that powers the app—artificial intelligence or AI. In SwiftKey’s case, its predictive technology learns from the user’s personal writing style, on the basis of previous usage of text, chat messages or social media interactions, and predicts the next word or phrases that the user intends to type. This, as the company on its website says, could be anything from “your quirkiest family name to the sports teams you support”.

The company, which was launched in 2008, says its “mission is to enhance the interaction between people and technology,” with the fundamental belief that “technology should adapt to you and not the other way around.” And therefore, it came up with what it calls the “world’s most intuitive and personalized keyboard software.”

Harry Shum, Microsoft’s executive vice-president, technology and research announced its acquisition of SwiftKey in a blog post. He wrote, “This acquisition is a great example of Microsoft’s commitment to bringing its software and services to all platform. We’ll continue to develop SwiftKey’s market-leading keyboard apps for Android and iOS as well as explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio. Moreover, SwiftKey’s predictive technology aligns with Microsoft’s investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work on the user’s behalf and under their control.” Put simply, Microsoft has just entered the already crowded (and growing) artificial intelligence game.

It is also following in the footsteps off fellow tech giants, most notably Google and Apple. Google, in January 2014, paid $400 million to acquire another London-based AI start-up, DeepMind. The deal went down as Google’s largest European acquisition to date. DeepMind, according to aTechCrunch report, was founded by “neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, a former child prodigy in chess, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman.” Besides, the company also had Skype and Kazaa developer Jaan Tallin as an investor, prior to Google’s acquisition. Prior to acquiring DeepMind, Google, in December 2012, had appointed “famed inventor, entrepreneur, author and futurist” Ray Kurzweil as the director of engineering, focused on “machine learning and language processing.”

Similarly, Apple made its first acquisition of an artificial intelligence outfit in October last year, when it purchased Vocal IQ, another startup, based in Cambridge, UK. Vocal IQ, according to a Forbes report, specialises in “speech-related artificial intelligence.” At the team, Apple’s acquisition was expectedly linked to the company wanting to enhance its virtual assistant Siri’s capabilities, but Forbes reported that Vocal IQ, in 2014, worked with carmaker General Motors “to integrate its capabilities into an intelligent voice-controlled system for its cars that would let users turn on their windshield wipers or adjust car stereo settings by speaking.”

And then, there’s Facebook, which in December 2013 announced that one of the world’s leading “deep learning and machine learning scientists”, Yann LeCunn, who was a professor at NYU. LeCunn was hired to lead Facebook’s new AI laboratory. Facebook, today, has what it calls FAIR (Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research) based in New York, with other offices in its Menlo Park campus, London and Paris. The company says that it is “committed to advancing the field of machine intelligence and developing technologies that give people better ways to communicate. In the long term, we seek to understand intelligence and make intelligent machines.” And as if to lay down a marker, Facebook said it hopes to accomplish all of this by “building the best AI lab in the world.” You can read more about Facebook’s AI efforts here.

This brings us to IBM’s Watson, what it calls a “cognitive technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.” The system, in the case of Watson, essentially learns everything (the subject concerned), with pairs of questions and answers related to the subject. When it comes to answering (a question related to the subject), it scours through “millions of documents to find thousands of possible answers.” It also collects evidence and “uses a scoring algorithm to rate the quality of this evidence,” before ranking “all possible answers based on the score of its supporting evidence,” all of this according to its official website.