Cabinet approves promulgation of Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance

The Union Cabinet on 21 April 2018 approved the promulgation of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance 2018, which would empower the government to seize the domestic assets of those deemed by a relevant court to be fugitive economic offenders.

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 financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions.

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.

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 so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 12, but was not passed due to disruptions and adjournments in both Houses of Parliament. An ordinance is an executive order issued by the President of India — on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet — that holds the same force as an Act passed by Parliament.

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