April 23, 2018
The President on April 21, 2018 promulgated the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018. The Union Cabinet in March this year had approved the proposal of the Ministry of Finance to introduce the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 in Parliament. One of the major provision in the Bill is that for offences worth Rs. 100 crore or more, the Property of Fugitive Economic Offenders would be attached. The Bill primarily aims at laying down measures to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
Who is a Fugitive Economic Offender?
A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
Read more here.
Key Highlights of the Ordinance
- The Ordinance lays down measures to empower Indian authorities to attach and confiscate proceeds of crime associated with economic offenders and the properties of the economic offenders and thereby deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
- The Ordinance makes provisions for a Court (‘Special Court’ under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002) to declare a person as a Fugitive Economic Offender.
- In order to ensure that Courts are not over-burdened with such cases, only those cases where the total value involved in such offences is 100 crore rupees or more, is within the purview of this Ordinance.
- The Ordinance provides for making an application before the Special Court for a declaration that an individual is a fugitive economic offender;
- It provides for issue of a notice by the Special Court to the individual alleged to be a fugitive economic offender;
- The Ordinance provides for confiscation of the property of an individual declared as a fugitive economic offender or even the proceeds of crime, disentitlement of the fugitive economic offender from defending any civil claim and appointment of an Administrator to manage and dispose of the confiscated property under the Act.
In India there have been glaring instances of economic offenders leaving the country in apprehension of commencement of legal proceedings against them. The latest case being the case of famous jewelry designer Nirav Modi who has been absconding and is being investigated for illegal transfer of approximately 12000 Crore from Punjab National Bank.
In the wake of proliferation of such crimes in the recent years, the Bill was introduced in September 2017 and brings within its purview criminal offences tantamounting to Rs. 100 crore or more.