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Cabinet Approves “Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance”

April 22, 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind approved the “Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance”, that will now allow the government to seize the assets and properties of those loan defaulters who leave the country.

The promulgation came following its authorization by the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Despite the issuance of The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill since March 12, the approval has not been possible due to disturbances in the cabinet over other important issues.

|A Glance at the provisions of the Ordinance             
  • The provision allows the seizure of assets and properties of loan defaulters or economic offenders who have fled the country in order to get rid of criminal trial.
  • The ordinance will apply for people who decline to return or against whom the arrest warrant has been sent out or loan defaulters with over 100 Crore outstanding.
  • The provision also allows the government to confiscate the properties without the conviction of the fugitive and reimburse the lenders by selling the properties/assets.
  • As per the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), such economic offenders will be put on trial.
|What defines a Fugitive Economic offender?

Terms like insufficiency of funds, cheque dishonor, forging currency or government stamps, transaction defrauding creditors, money laundering, person against whom an arrest warrant has been sent out are used by the ordinance to define Economic offenders.

Fugitive economic offenders are those who have fled the country and are refusing to return to face trial.

|Other Details
  • As per the ordinance, to declare a person as a fugitive economic offender, a director or deputy director has to be appointed under PMLA, who has to file an application before the special court for the declaration.
  • The application submitted, must contain all the reasons pertaining to why the person should be declared as a fugitive economic offender.
  • In addition, the application also needs to contain the details of properties that belongs to the fugitive, the details of foreign properties and benami properties and name of the people who are interested in those properties. Fugitive’s whereabouts also to be mentioned in the application.
  • Post to receiving the application containing all the information, the special court will issue a notice to the person to appear within the specific time of 6 weeks.
  • The special court will have to terminate the proceedings if the person appears within the specific time and at the specified place.
  • Asset that belongs to the fugitive economic offender can provisionally be attached without the permission of the special court if an application is filed prior to 30 days.
  • Any plea against the order of special court will be stretched out to high court.

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