In a significant move, the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018, to provide for measures to deter fugitive economic offenders from evading the process of law in India by staying outside the jurisdiction of Indian court, was promulgated by the President on Saturday.
- “Fugitive economic offender” means any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a Scheduled Offence has been issued by any Court in India, who— (i) has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or (ii) being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution;
- “Proceeds of crime” means any property derived or obtained, directly or indirectly, by any person as a result of criminal activity relating to a Scheduled Offence, or the value of any such property, or where such property is taken or held outside the country, then the property equivalent in value held within the country or abroad;
- “Scheduled Offence” means an offence specified in the Schedule, if the total value involved in such offence or offences is Rs. 100 crore or more;
- “Special Court” means a Court of Session designated as a Special Court under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002
- “Director” and “Deputy Director” means the Director/ Deputy Director appointed under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002
Procedure for declaration as Fugitive Economic Offender
- Director/officer not below rank of Deputy Director authorized by the Director to apply to Special Court to declare the person as Fugitive Economic Offender
- Special Court issues notice to the person
- If the person himself appears before the Special Court, proceedings gets terminated. If a counsel appears on his behalf, the Court can give him one-week time for filing his reply. If none appears on his behalf, the Court can proceed to hear the application.
- If the Special Court is satisfied that an individual is a fugitive economic offender, it may, by an order, declare the individual as a fugitive economic offender for reasons to be recorded in writing.
Consequences of being declared as Fugitive Economic Offender
- The Special Court may order that any of the following properties stand confiscated to the Central Government— (a) the proceeds of crime in India or abroad, whether or not such property is owned by the fugitive economic offender; and (b) any other property or benami property in India or abroad, owned by the fugitive economic offender.
- Any Court or tribunal in India, in any civil proceeding before it, may, disallow such individual from putting forward or defending any civil claim; and
- Any Court or tribunal in India in any civil proceeding before it, may, disallow any company or limited liability partnership from putting forward or defending any civil claim, if an individual filing the claim on behalf of the company or the limited liability partnership, or any promoter or key managerial personnel or majority shareholder of the company or an individual having a controlling interest in the limited liability partnership has been declared as a fugitive economic offender.