Diu: Home minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said the government is serious in taking strong action against the economic offenders, who flee the country, and a bill to this effect would be bought in the monsoon session of Parliament.
Singh made the remarks at a meeting in Diu, before the Union Cabinet gave its nod for promulgation of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance that provides for confiscating properties of escapees. “The opposition levels allegations that some Nirav (Modi) and (Mehul) Choksi fled abroad. We will present a fugitive economic offenders bill before the Parliament soon," he said.
Singh said earlier economic offenders used to flee abroad and their properties were not seized, but now their assets will be confiscated under the bill. The bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha on 12 March, but could not be passed due to continuous disruptions and adjournments in Parliament during the second half of the Budget Session. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance empowers the government to seize the domestic assets of those deemed by a relevant court to be belonging to fugitive economic offenders.
“The ordinance would lay down the measures to empower Indian authorities to attach and confiscate proceeds of crime associated with economic offenders and the properties of the economic offenders and thereby deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts," the government said in a statement on Saturday.
The ordinance is expected to re-establish the rule of law with respect to the fugitive economic offenders as they would be forced to return to India to face trial for scheduled offences. This would also help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from defaults committed by such offenders, improving the financial health of the institutions.
A fugitive economic offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution, the statement said.
Jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle and business partner, Mehul Choksi are the prime accused in the multi-crore scam that hit Punjab National Bank. They fled India. Liquor baron Vijay Mallya and former IPL chief Lalit Modi are two other such persons who are in foreign land and avoiding the law.
During his two-day visit to Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Singh inaugurated a number of development projects and laid foundation stones of some others.