The Cabinet on Thursday approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill to deal with those escaping overseas to avoid getting caught.
He added, "Offences worth Rs 100 crore or more will be under the purview of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018".
But it is not clear whether it will be implemented retrospective or not. "It is, therefore, felt necessary to provide an effective, expeditious and constitutionally permissible deterrent to ensure that such actions are curbed".
If at any point of time in the course of the proceeding prior to the declaration, however, the alleged Fugitive Economic Offender returns to India and submits to the appropriate jurisdictional Court, proceedings under the proposed Act would cease by law. Law will apply to new and old cases of persons who have fled the country to avoid prosecution.
Jaitley further said that cases allegedly involving a total value of above Rs 100 crore will be subjected to prosecution.
A finance ministry statement had also said in this regard that, "It is widely felt that the spectre of high-value economic offenders absconding from India to defy the legal process seriously undermines the rule of law in India".
Once a court has declared a person "a fugitive offender", all of his or her assets - not merely proceeds or profits of crime - could be confiscated by the government under the new legislation.
- The economic offenders would not be able to stake claim on the properties seized by the Income Tax department or the Enforcement Directorate, even if their yet to be proclaimed guilty by the courts.
The finance minister stated that as per the proposal in the bill, "courts can declare an economic offender fugitive". "There will also be a provision to confiscate such assets outside India but cooperation of that country will be needed".
"The Bill certainly attempts to take stringent measures to tackle the issue which has been looming large until now. 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 statement said. A scheduled offence refers to a list of economic offences contained in the Schedule to this Bill. But the existing laws do not allow complete "non-conviction" based asset attachment without any encumbrances. An administrator will be appointed to manage and dispose of the confiscated property under the Act.