The Centre on Thursday placed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017 in public domain, seeking feedback and suggestions. The Bill proposes to aid in confiscation of assets of absconding high-value economic offenders, till they submit to the jurisdiction of the appropriate legal forum.
“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. It is necessary to provide an effective, expeditious and constitutionally permissible deterrent to ensure that such actions are curbed. To serve these ends, this Bill is being proposed,” the explanatory note attached to the Bill states.
Stakeholder comments are to be submitted by 3 June, 2017 by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or in hard copy to Mr. Parveen Kumar, Under Secretary (FSLRC), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Room No. 48, North Block, New Delhi-110001.
The Bill adopts the non-conviction-based asset confiscation for corruption-related cases, as recommended by the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
It empowers a Court of law to declare a person a Fugitive Economic Offender, who is defined as a person who has an arrest warrant issued in respect of a scheduled offence, and who leaves or has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution. A scheduled offence refers to a list of economic offences contained in the Schedule to the Bill. It, however, covers only those cases where the total value involved in such offences is Rs. 100 crore or more.
On such declaration, two consequences will ensue. First, any property that is a proceed of crime that the person is accused of, as well as any property owned by such person in India shall stand confiscated and vested in the Government of India free from all encumbrances. Second, at the discretion of any Court, such person or any company where he is a promoter or key managerial personnel or majority shareholder, may be disentitled from bringing forward or defending any civil claim.
Read the draft here.