Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill: Days after the alleged multi-crore PNB fraud case rocked the nation, the Cabinet, on Thursday, gave its go-ahead to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill in a bid to tighten the noose on the wilful defaulters who tends to abscond the nation to evade the clutches of the law. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley confirmed the development during a press conference. The bills seeks to confiscate and sell all the assets of legally proved absconding economic offenders. While making the announcement, the Finance Minister explained the provisions of the Bill saying that any person found guilty of committing a scheduled offence and against whom a legal warrant has been issued, if refuses to face the criminal prosecution and leave the nation, then the person will be put in the list of fugitive economic offender and the property of that particular person will become vulnerable to confiscation. The Bill is aimed to check the practice of leaving the country without paying back the dues of the banks.
The Bill assumes significance as the incumbent BJP government has received flaks from Opposition led by Congress over the alleged bank fraud cases involving diamond czar Nirav Modi. The Congress has also questioned the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on the alleged scams. Furthermore, with the economic health of the public sector banks being in doldrums due to the large scale NPAs (Non Performing Assets), a bill to check the frauds of the above-mentioned nature became more or less, inevitable.
1. As per the Finance Minister, the Bill will curb the practice of evading the criminal prosecution by the economic offenders who flee from the country to stay out of the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
2. The Bill will give the right to the government to confiscate the property of such economic offenders in India and abroad. The Bill will also be applicable on the proxy-owned properties of the economic offenders.
3. The Bill defines the economic offenders as those against whom a legal warrant has been issued, but they refuse to adhere to the summons of the legal authorities.
4. The law balances itself with a provision that allows the accused to file an appeal in the High Court to state their case.
5. The Bill keeps the banks and other financial institutions at the Centre and seeks to help them recover the amount. The Bill will only be used for economic offences over Rs 100 crores.
Meanwhile, Arun Jaitley, while making the announcement, cleared that the Bill, in no way, intends to bypass the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and the body will continue its audit procedures for smaller companies. He also added that NFRA will examine the cases of misconduct by the chartered accountants.