Parliament passes Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018

Parliament has passed Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 that aims to curb practice of evading criminal prosecution by economic offenders fleeing from country to evade clutches Indian law by remaining outside jurisdiction of Indian courts. The bill will replace an ordinance promulgated by President in April 2018.

Key Features of Bill

Fugitive economic offender (FEO): It has been as person against whom arrest warrant has been issued against him for any specified offences where value involved is over Rs. 100 crore and he has left ountry and refuses to return to face prosecution.

Special Court: The Bill empowers Special Court (designated under Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002) to declare person as FEO based on application made. The Special Court will require person to appear at specified place at least six weeks from issue notice. Proceedings will be terminated if the person appears.

Confiscation of properties: The Bill allows director or deputy director (appointed under Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002) to attach any property mentioned in application with permission of special court. Upon declaration as FEO, properties of person will be confiscated and vested in central government, free of rights and claims in property. Further it bars FEO or any company associated with him from filing or defending civil claims.

Bar on filing or defending civil claims: The Bill bars any court or tribunal may bar FEO or associated company from filing or defending civil claims before it.

Search warrant: The Bill does not require authorities to obtain search warrant or ensure presence of witnesses before search. 

Powers of director: The director or deputy director will have powers vested of civil court. These powers include entering a place on the belief that individual is FEO and directing searching of building or seizing documents.Under this law, appeals against orders of special court will lie before High Court.

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