The government is making efforts to extradite businessman Vijay Mallya from the UK. He owes over Rs 9,000 crore to various Indian banks.
The government on Thursday put out ‘The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017’ in the public domain, seeking feedback and suggestions. The bill aims to help confiscate assets of high-value economic offenders absconding from India till they submit to the jurisdiction of the appropriate legal forum.
As per the draft law, a ‘fugitive economic offender’ means any 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 India to face criminal prosecution. The provisions of the proposed bill will override other legislations dealing with economic offences.
“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 finance ministry noted in its statement adding that therefore it was felt necessary to provide “an effective, expeditious and constitutionally permissible deterrent to ensure that such actions are curbed.”
The draft law further proposes that the burden of proof for establishing that an individual is a fugitive economic offender will be on the authorities.
“The confiscation order of the Special Court will, to the extent possible, identify the property that constitutes proceeds of crime which are to be confiscated and in case such properties cannot be identified, quantify the value of the proceeds of crime,” it said.
The proposed law follows an announcement made by finance minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech on February 1. Jaitley had noted in the recent past that 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,” he had said.