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Amendment in Economic offenders Bill-2017
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2017 was passed by Lok Sabha on July 19, 2018. The bill aims to prevent culprits from evading the legal process and fleeing the country.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2017 was passed by Lok Sabha on July 19, 2018. The bill aims to prevent culprits from evading the legal process and fleeing the country. The bill was presented by the Finance Minister of State Mr. Piyush Goyal. The bill will now replace the Ordinance by the same name promulgated by the President in April. The economic offenders committing offences for Rs.100 Crores and above will be governed by this bill which will become an Act once it is cleared by Rajya Sabha. The bill however will be effective from the date on which it becomes an ACT after getting President’s nod. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill gave power to the agencies to seize properties which are not only in the name of offender, but also the ones that are 'benami'. Opposition demanded that instead of new law the need was to plug loopholes in old laws like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act or SARFESI Act.
Why the bill?
The bill is an effort to check the economic offences of large amounts. The Government was criticized for not having done enough to prevent scams like the Nirav Modi case, in which the jeweler is alleged to have got unsecured loans of more than Rs 11,000 crore from a public-sector bank. The Government was criticized for not being able to prevent the alleged criminals like Nirav Modi and Kingfisher head Vijay Mallya from leaving the country.
- Declaring a person offender under the bill
A Director, appointed by the central government, will have to file an application to a Special Court to declare a person as a ‘fugitive economic offender’ under clause (2) of Section 6. This application should contain reason/s for the belief that an individual is a fugitive economic offender.
- Do’s for Economic offender under the law
The Court will issue a notice to the person named a ‘fugitive economic offender’. Within six weeks from the date of notice, the person will have to present themselves at “a specified place at a specified time”.
- No claim after property is confiscated
the offender cannot file a civil claim once the property is confiscated. Section 11 of the Act disqualifies those declared as offenders from either filing or defending a civil claim in court.
- No clarity on implementation from retrospective date
Analysts have asked questions about whether the law can be applied retrospectively, to the alleged crimes of people like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya. The draft Bill does not exactly spell this out, saying only that “the Act applies to any individual who is, or becomes, a fugitive economic offender on or after the date of coming into force of this Act”.
- Difficult to make offenders return to India
The law can’t force offenders to bank such as Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya to bring back in the country for the due legal and financial proceedings.
- Tough laws already exist
Number of Acts like SARFAESI already exists to recover money by disposing off the property of the offenders. Recovery Tribunals have also been set up but still the economic offenders are running away with huge public money.
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