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Home / Politics / Policy /  Budget 2017: Govt mulls law to confiscate assets of absconding offenders

New Delhi: The government may introduce a new law that will enable the confiscation of assets belonging to offenders who leave the country, finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday.

“In the recent past, there have been instances of big time offenders, including economic offenders, fleeing the country to escape the reach of law. We have to ensure that the law is allowed to take its own course," Jaitley said in his budget speech.

“The government is therefore considering introduction of legislative changes, or even a new law, to confiscate the assets of such persons located within the country, till they submit to the jurisdiction of the appropriate legal forum. Needless to say that all necessary constitutional safeguards will be followed in such cases," he added.

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Businessman Vijay Mallya left India for the UK in early March as creditors owed Rs.9,000 crore by his grounded Kingfisher Airlines Ltd closed in on him. Lenders and investigative agencies have been seeking to bring him back.

To be sure, present laws do have provisions to deal with absconding offenders.

Under specific provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC), the law empowers the courts to issue a proclamation against an absconding offender, requiring him to appear at a specific place at a later date. This is backed by provisions under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which prescribes prison term of three years or fine or both for non-appearance by the suspect.

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In addition, the law also lays down the procedure for seizure of the property of such a person, depending on the nature of the property.

“There are existing provisions under Indian law which provide for a procedures to deal with assets of those offenders who may have absconded from the country. The government’s move of enacting a new provision or legislation would help in strengthening the current law and give it more teeth by providing for confiscation," said senior advocate Siddharth Luthra.

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