Bills and Acts in Current Affairs 2017

Summary of latest bill and acts passed or pending in 2017 in Parliament of India with their salient features and issues for Current Affairs 2017 preparation for various examinations.

Law Ministry approves Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017

The Union Law ministry has approved Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017 to empower government to confiscate property of economic offenders and defaulters who flee India.

The Bill seeks to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by fleeing the country. It was drafted in pursuance of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s 2017-18 Budget speech promising legislative changes or even new law to confiscate the assets of such fugitives. The Finance Ministry had prepared the draft Cabinet note on the bill and sought the law ministry’s opinion on it.

Features of Bill

It defines fugitive economic offender as any individual against whom warrant for arrest in relation to economic offence has been issued and person has left the country and refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.  The burden of proof for establishing that an individual is fugitive economic offender will be on authorities.

The proposed bill will be applicable in cases where the value of offences is over Rs 100 crore. It will allow Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the premier technical snoop wing under the finance ministry, to file an application for declaration of fugitive economic offender for confiscation of their assets.

The bill entrusts responsibility to try such cases to the courts under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA). The bill has provision for appointment of an administrator to dispose off property of fugitive offfender to pay off the creditors. Besides, it has provisions to override provisions of other existing laws.

Law Ministry Suggestions

It wants Saving Clause to be incorporated in the Bill before it is introduced in Parliament. Saving clause provides for certain exception(s) in a statute. It enables repealed law to be in force with respect to some existing rights as provisions of the proposed bill has  bearing on the provisions of existing laws.

The existing laws under which such fugitive economic offender are tried include Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act (RDDBFI), Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002, (SARFESI) and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

Need for such Law

In the recent past, there have been instances of big-time offenders, including economic offenders, fleeing the country to escape reach of jurisdiction of Indian courts. Most recently, Vijay Mallya, chief of terstwhile Kingfisher Airlines who owes over Rs 9,000 crore to various Indian banks, had fled India to escape legal proceedings in connection with the loans. Such cases have several deleterious consequences as it hampers investigation in criminal cases, wastes precious time of courts of law and undermines the rule of law of the country.

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Lok Sabha passes Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017

The Lok Sabha passed the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) Bill, 2017 by voice vote. The Bill declares the IIMs as institutions of national importance.

The bill seeks to empower these institutions to attain standards of global excellence in management, management research and allied areas of knowledge. It also promises to grant administrative, academic and financial autonomy to these B-Schools and allow them to grant degrees.

Key Highlights of Bill

The bill allows IIMs to grant degrees to their students. It also grants them complete autonomy, combined with adequate accountability. It establishes coordination Forum of IIMs as an advisory body. It empowers board of an IIM to drive the management of the institution. It will select Chairperson and Director of IIM.

The board will have greater participation of experts and alumni. It will also include women and members from Scheduled Castes/Tribes. Besides, it adds provisions for periodic review of the performance of IIM by independent agencies and their results will be placed in public domain. Besides, it also has provision to place the Annual Report of the IIMs in the Parliament and CAG (Comptroller and auditor general of India)  auditing their accounts.

Background

IIMs are the country’s premier institutions imparting best quality education in management and are recognized as world-class management Institutions and Centres of Excellence. India has 20 IIMs now. All IIMs are separate autonomous bodies registered under the Societies Act. Earlier they were not authorized to award degrees. These awards were treated as equivalent to MBAs and Ph.D, respectively, but their equivalence was not universally acceptable, especially for the Fellow Programme.

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