‘Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill’ Approved By Cabinet For Defaulters Who Escape From Country
March 2nd, 2018
Image Credits: Arun Jaitley
A ‘Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill’ has been approved by the Cabinet yesterday to extradite the fugitives who escape to other countries to avoid arrest. This bill empowers the government to confiscate the properties of such offenders in India.
Besides this, the cabinet has also approved the establishment of ‘National Financial Reporting Authority’ (NFRA) that shall be an independent regulator for the auditing profession. It was a key change that was brought about by the ‘Companies Act 2013’. The offender’s bill aims at restraining offenders like Nirav Modi to escape from country and the judicial trial.
What does the Finance Minister say?
There was a press conference held yesterday in Delhi where Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke. He said as quoted by The Indian Express, “Fugitive Offenders Economic Bill 2018 has been brought to confiscation of assets of a fugitive, including Benami assets. There will also be the provision to confiscate those assets outside India, but cooperation of that country will be needed. On the other hand, the jurisdiction of NFRA for investigation of Chartered Accountants & their firms under section 132 of the Act would extend to listed companies & large unlisted public companies, the threshold for which shall be provided in the Rules.”
The Finance Ministry also said that the high-value economic offenders escaping from India call for a serious thought over the rule of law in India. Therefore, a sufficient‘ constitutionally permissible deterrent’ is required to make sure such actions do not take place in future.
Who is a ‘Fugitive Economic Offender’?
The explanatory note to the Draft Bill says, “A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person who has an arrest warrant issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who leaves or has left India to avoid criminal prosecution, or refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.”
Rights that an Economic Offender loses
The Draft Bill further says, “At the discretion of any court, such person or any company where he is a promoter or key managerial personnel or majority shareholder may be disentitled or bringing forward or defending any civil claim. If at any point in time in the course of the proceeding before the declaration, however, the alleged fugitive economic offender returns to India and submits to the appropriate jurisdictional court, proceedings under this act would cease by law.”
When was the draft version of the bill introduced?
The draft version of the Bill was introduced last year when Supreme Court declared Vijay Mallya guilty of contempt. He was asked to appear before the court on July 10th, 2017. He owes more than Rs 9000 crores to the banks.
Recently, A series of scams were unearthed by the authorities, standing first in the line, Punjab National Bank reported India’s largest banking scam of 12,636 crores or more by Jewellery designer Nirav Modi and his Uncle, owner of Gitanjali Jewels, Mehul Choksi. They both have left the country.