According to an official order, President Ram Nath Kovind has given the nod to The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, a bill which will deter fugitive economic offenders to evade legal process in India and flee the country. A fugitive economic offender is any individual against whom warrants for arrest are issued, for their involvement in select economic offenses.
The said offenses involve amount of at least Rs 100 crore or more and has left India to avoid criminal prosecution.
Big economic offenders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi will be prevented from evading the law and fleeing the country, under the new legislation. Both Mallya and Modi are out of India and are wanted in cases being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Under the new law, designated special court can declare a person as fugitive economic offender and can also confiscate his property, including 'benami' ones.
"All the rights and title in the confiscated property shall, from the date of the confiscation order, vest in the central government, free from all encumbrances," the Act says.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 was passed by the Rajya Sabha on July 25. It was cleared in the Lok Sabha on July 19.
Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, while justifying the financial limit of Rs 100 crore for invoking the provisions of this new law, had recently stated in the Parliament that it was being done to "catch the big offenders and not to clog the courts".
"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 assets of such absconders till they don't present themselves in front of the courts. We will also work out what has to be done with the confiscated assets," Goyal had said in Rajya Sabha.
The Enforcement Directorate will be the investigative agency under the Act, he added.
Other laws like the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 2018, the State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Act, 2018 and the Specific Relief (Amendment) Act, 2018 have also been given the nod by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Bills in these regards were approved by Parliament recently.