What is a Fugitive Economic Offender? Outline the objectives and rationale of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2017 despite of presence of several laws on economic offenders in place.

Fugitive Economic Offender means any person who left the country to avoid prosecution and refuses to return back to India, despite an arrest warrant against him/her for economic offences.
To prosecute such offenders, there are various laws such as SARFESI, Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). However, if person absconds from India, in that case, these laws are not that much effective.
In order to provide an effective constitutionally permissible deterrent Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2017 is proposed.
Provisions of Proposed Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill

  1. The proposed bill provides power to Financial Intelligence Unit, to file an application for the declaration of the fugitive economic offender so that their assets can be confiscated. Also, the burden of proof to establish that an individual is a fugitive economic offender will be on the authorities.
  2. A special court under Prevention of Money Laundering Act would be constituted to try such cases. The court can declare a person as Fugitive Economic Offender. Also to ensure that courts are not over-burdened, only offences 100 crore rupees or more, will be within the purview of the bill. In order to ensure justice, necessary safeguards are provided to the person to file a reply, as well to appeal to the High Court.
  3. Bill provides for the appointment of an administrator to dispose of the property so that creditors can be paid back.
  4. Once passed, the provisions of the proposed law will override provisions of other existing laws.

The law will act as a deterrent for economic offenders who evading the process of Indian law by fleeing the country. The implementation of the law and timely action will be the key so that such offenders can be brought to book.

Question for UPSC Mains:
What is a Fugitive Economic Offender? Outline the objectives and rationale of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2017 despite of presence of several laws on economic offenders in place. ET

Published: September 19, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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