India drafts Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill
Finance ministry says it is widely felt that the spectre of high-value economic offenders absconding from India to defy the legal process seriously undermines the rule of law in India.business Updated: May 18, 2017 16:50 IST
India on Thursday proposed a new legislation to confiscate assets of offenders who leave the country to escape legal actions, in a move aimed at punishing high-profile defaulters such as Vijay Mallya.
The finance ministry has prepared a draft Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill and sought public comments.
“It is widely felt that the spectre of high-value economic offenders absconding from India to defy the legal process seriously undermines the rule of law in India,” the ministry said in a statement.
“It is, therefore, felt necessary to provide an effective, expeditious and constitutionally permissible deterrent to ensure that such actions are curbed.”
In his Budget speech on February 1, finance minister Arun Jaitley said the government was considering to introduce legislative changes or even a new law to confiscate the assets of such absconders till they submit to the jurisdiction of the appropriate legal forum.
“In the recent past, there have been instances of big time offenders, including economic offenders, fleeing the country to escape the reach of law. We have to ensure that the law is allowed to take its own course,” Jaitley had said.
All necessary constitutional safeguards will be followed in such cases, he assured lawmakers.
Accordingly, the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill has been drawn up.
The move comes days after the Supreme Court found troubled liquor baron Mallya guilty of contempt and asked him to appear before it on July 10, an order expected to help India’s case to seek his extradition from the UK.
The 61-year-old businessman had failed to submit details of all his assets, upholding a plea by a consortium of banks to which he owes more than Rs 9,000 crore.
The money is owed by his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines that was grounded in 2012.
India has impressed upon the UK to expedite the request for extradition of Mallya and other Indian fugitives.