Ordinance likely to fast-track Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill

File photo of Nirav Modi
The government plans to issue the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill as an ordinance before the monsoon session of Parliament.

If it is not passed in the Budget session, a senior government official told Business Standard, the ordinance will be then sought to be formalised as an Act in the monsoon session.

The second half of the Budget session starts from Monday and is expected to go on till April 6. On the agenda are the Finance Bill, the triple talaq Bill, which is stuck in the Rajya Sabha, and the one to give constitutional status to the National Commission on Backward Classes.

Planners in the government also expect disruptions due to the Punjab National Bank scam and the arrest of former finance minister P Chidambaram's son, Karti Chidambaram, by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The government is also fast-tracking the draft of the Economic Offenders Bill. The draft law will soon be placed in the Cabinet, before being introduced in Parliament in the post-recess Budget session. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had first spoken of such a Bill in the 2017-18 Budget.

According to the draft law, a fugitive economic offender is an individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to an economic offence has been issued, and the person has left the country and refuses to return to face criminal prosecution. The authorities will have to prove the individual concerned is a fugitive economic offender.

Even existing cases might come under the proposed law, including those of Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choski. But, the law would not cover earlier cases. The Bill also proposes to give greater powers to investigating agencies. It allows quicker attachment and disposal of properties and assets, helping recovery of money. The Bill has provisions for appointing an administrator to dispose of property to pay creditors. Besides, the provisions of the proposed law will override the provisions of existing laws, say sources.

The laws under which such offenders are now tried are the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

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