The Parliament on Wednesday passed a bill that seeks to prevent big economic offenders such as Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi from fleeing the country and evading the legal process. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018, was passed by the Rajya Sabha with a voice vote today. The Lok Sabha had cleared the measure on July 19.

Finance mInister Piyush Goyal said instances of people running away and evading legal legal process was increasing, which needed to be stopped as the current laws do not allow dealing with the “severity of the problem”.

“Criminal law does not allow us to impound their property,” he added.

“This bill is an effective, expeditious and constitutional way to stop these offenders from running away. Legislative changes or a new law must be in place to confiscate assets of such absconders till they don’t present themselves in front of the courts. We will also work out what has to be done with the confiscated assets,” Goyal said.

While replying to the debate, he said there cannot be a situation where economic offenders run away from the country and also protect their properties. Justifying the financial limit of Rs 100 crore for invoking the provision of this new law, Goyal said it was being done to catch the big offenders and not to clog the courts.

The Enforcement Directorate will be the investigative agency under the Act, he added.

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