The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 that seeks to prevent big economic offenders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi from fleeing the country to evade the legal proceedings, was passed by a voice vote in the Rajya Sabha.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill that cleared the Lok Sabha on July 19, will enable the government to confiscate, manage and dispose of the property of the person declared offender. Also, the attachment of properties of economic offenders would be done in a time-bound manner.
Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, who moved the bill in the Lok Sabha, said that the bill was an “effective, expeditious and constitutional” way to stop big economic offenders from fleeing the country.
Goyal said that the instances of people running away and evading the legal process were increasing and the bill was the need of the hour to stop this as existing criminal laws didn’t allow the government to impound their property.
“This bill is an effective, expeditious and constitutional way to stop these offenders from running away. 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,” Goyal said.
Responding to the debate over the bill in the upper house, Goyal said that the government can’t allow offenders to leave the country and still protect their assets back home.
“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 interim finance minister said.
Soon after Goyal moved the bill Vice President and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Venkaiah Naidu, also remarked that “What is agitating the common man in the country is whether the system is so helpless” in dealing with economic offenders.
The de facto finance minister said that the central government was also making efforts to get big economic offenders like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya, who have gone abroad to escape the legal proceedings, extradited.
Rebutting opposition charges that the government has failed to bring back black money, Goyal said “We are fighting against black money and forcing offenders to face the legal process."
The government has kept a financial limit of Rs 100 crore for invoking the provisions of the new law to “catch the big offenders". The Enforcement Directorate will be the investigative agency under this new Act.
(With Inputs from agencies)