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Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018 gets promulgated

Reproduced from PIB press release

Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018 has come into force as the President of India has given his assent to the Union Cabinet’s decision to promulgate the said Ordinance. Earlier, the Union Cabinet, in its meeting held on 21st April, 2018, had decided to approve the proposal of the Ministry of Finance to promulgate the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018.

Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018 (“the Ordinance”) lays 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 need for the Ordinance has arisen as there have been instances of economic offenders fleeing the jurisdiction of Indian courts, anticipating the commencement, or during the pendency, of criminal proceedings. The absence of such offenders from Indian courts has several deleterious consequences – first, it hampers investigation in criminal cases; second, it wastes precious time of courts of law, third, it undermines the rule of law in India.

The existing civil and criminal provisions in law are not entirely adequate to deal with the severity of the problem. In view of the above context, a Budget announcement was made by the Government in the Budget 2017-18 that the Government was considering to introduce legislative changes or even a new law to confiscate the assets of such absconders till they submit to the jurisdiction of the appropriate legal forum.Pursuant to the above announcement, the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 was introduced in LokSabha on the 12th March, 2018. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 was listed for consideration and passing in LokSabha on many occasions after its introduction. The LokSabha has since been adjourned sine die and both the Houses of Parliament were prorogued on 6thApril, 2018.

In order to address the deficiency in the present laws and lay down measures to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts, the Ordinance is being proposed.

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