Rajya Sabha passes Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill

• Parliament, on Wednesday, passed a bill that seeks to prevent big economic offenders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi from fleeing the country to evade the legal process.

• The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 was passed by a voice vote in the Rajya Sabha today. The Lok Sabha had cleared this Bill on July 19.

• Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the instances of people running away and evading the legal process was increasing and this needed to be stopped, as the current laws do not allow fully dealing with the severity of the problem.

• Legislative changes or a new law must be in place to confiscate the assets of such absconders till they don’t present themselves before the courts. We will also work out what has to be done with the confiscated assets,” Goyal said.

• Replying to the debate, Goyal said there cannot be a situation when economic offenders run away from the country and also protect their properties. This Bill will deter people from running away. And those who have already fled, they return out of fear of attachment of their properties.

• The government is also making efforts to get those accused, who have gone abroad to escape the legal process, extradited, he said.

• Justifying the financial limit of Rs 100 crore for invoking the provisions of this new law, Goyal said it was being done to catch the big offenders and not to clog the courts.

• The Enforcement Directorate will be the investigative agency under the Act. There are provisions of special courts to declare a person a fugitive economic offender in an expeditious manner.

• Once a person is declared offender, his property will be confiscated, managed and disposed of. The attachment of properties would be done in a time-bound manner and effectively.

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