26. Adjudication of benami property.-
(1) On receipt of a reference under sub-section (5) of section 24, the Adjudicating Authority shall issue notice, to furnish such documents, particulars or evidence as is considered necessary on a date to be specified therein, on the following persons, namely:-
(a) the person specified as a benamidar therein;
(b) any person referred to as the beneficial owner therein or identified as such;
(c) any interested party, including a banking company;
(d) any person who has made a claim in respect of the property: Provided that the Adjudicating Authority shall issue notice within a period of thirty days from the date on which a reference has been received:
Provided further that the notice shall provide a period of not less than thirty days to the person to whom the notice is issued to furnish the information sought.
(2) Where the property is held jointly by more than one person, the Adjudicating Authority shall make all endeavours to serve notice to all persons holding the property: Provided that where the notice is served on anyone of the persons, the service of notice shall not be invalid on the ground that the said notice was not served to all the persons holding the property.
(3) The Adjudicating Authority shall, after-
(a) considering the reply, if any, to the notice issued under sub-section (1);
(b) making or causing to be made such inquiries and calling for such reports or evidence as it deems fit; and
(c) taking into account all relevant materials, provide an opportunity of being heard to the person specified as a benamidar therein, the Initiating Officer, and any other person who claims to be the owner of the property, and, thereafter, pass an order-
(i) holding the property not to be a benami property and revoking the attachment order; or
(ii) holding the property to be a benami property and confirming the attachment order, in all other cases.
(4) Where the Adjudicating Authority is satisfied that some part of the properties in respect of which reference has been made to him is benami property, but is not able to specifically identify such part, he shall record a finding to the best of his judgment as to which part of the properties is held benami.
(5) Where in the course of proceedings before it, the Adjudicating Authority has reason to believe that a property, other than a property referred to it by the Initiating Officer is benami property, it shall provisionally attach the property and the property shall be deemed to be a property referred to it on the date of receipt of the reference under sub-section (5) of section 24.
(6) The Adjudicating Authority may, at any stage of the proceedings, either on the application of any party, or suo motu, strike out the name of any party improperly joined or add the name of any person whose presence before the Adjudicating Authority may be necessary to enable him to adjudicate upon and settle all the questions involved in the reference.
(7) No order under sub-section (3) shall be passed after the expiry of one year from the end of the month in which the reference under sub-section (5) of section 24 was received.
(8) The benamidar or any other person who claims to be the owner of the property may either appear in person or take the assistance of an authorised representative of his choice to present his case.
Explanation.-For the purposes of sub-section (8), authorised representative means a person authorised in writing, being-
(i) a person related to the benamidar or such other person in any manner, or a person regularly employed by the benamidar or such other person as the case may be; or
(ii) any officer of a scheduled bank with which the benamidar or such other person maintains an account or has other regular dealings; or
(iii) any legal practitioner who is entitled to practice in any civil court in India; or
(iv) any person who has passed any accountancy examination recognised in this behalf by the Board; or
(v) any person who has acquired such educational qualifications as the Board may prescribe for this purpose.