The government on Monday introduced the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018 in the Lok Sabha seeking to tighten the noose around individuals who are wanted by local courts for offences under various Acts, including the Reserve Bank of India Act, Securities Exchange Board of India Act, insolvency and bankruptcy Act, central goods and services tax Act, prevention of money laundering Act, companies Act and foreign black money Act.
The proposed fugitive law aims to impound and sell assets of Nirav Modi-type escapees with a view to quickly recover dues.
The Bill paves the way for confiscation of all assets, including benami assets, both within and outside the country, of declared economic offenders.
The Economic Offenders Bill 2018 was introduced by Shiv Pratap Shukla, Minister of State for Finance, in the Lower House amidst din over the PNB scam.
The Bill has been proposed to address the lacunae in the present laws and lay down measures to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
The bill was introduced in the backdrop protests over the almost Rs 12,700 crore fraud at Punjab National Bank in which businessman Nirav Modi is allegedly involved. The offender will not be able to pursue any civil case in India when a case under the fugitive economic offenders' act is being pursued, a government statement said.
He felt the Bill, when enacted, had the potential to be misused as it provides for the presumption of "guilty until proven innocent" for an accused. BJD Member Bhartruhari Mahtab opposed the introduction of the Bill, saying it goes against theFundamental right of the people and it can also be misused.
The Bill, inter alia, provides for the definition of the fugitive offender as an individual who has committed a scheduled offence or offences involving an amount for Rs 100 crore or more and has absconded from India and refused to come back to avoid criminal prosecution or face trial.
A Bill to streamline and strengthen the chit fund sector was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday which mandates video conferencing while the opening of bids and seeks to hike commission of foremen from 5% to 7%.
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