Fugitive Bill turns an Opposition stick to beat govt with

first_img SHARE SHARE EMAIL July 25, 2018 COMMENT PIYUSH GOYAL, Interim Finance Minister   –  PTI Elders pass legislation but use debate to accuse Centre of letting offenders flee economic offencecenter_img A week after the Lok Sabha passed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, the Rajya Sabha, too, gave its nod to the legislation proposed to prevent economic offenders from fleeing the country.The debate on the Bill, however, turned political as the Opposition used the opportunity to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government for the Centre’s “inability” to stop accused in various cases Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi, and Lalit Modi from leaving the country.The Opposition MPs said non-performing assets (NPAs) had become a “systemic crisis” under the NDA government and alleged that the PM, who promised that he would be a chowkidar (gatekeeper) of the country, seems to have “slept during his duty”. The BJP countered it by saying that the NPAs are a legacy of the previous UPA government, and that the new Bill would ensure that offenders would not leave the country without facing punishment.Stand-in Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the Bill would help the Centre deal with “severity of the problem”. Current laws, he said, do not allow the government to impound the culprit’s property. “This Bill is an effective, expeditious and constitutional way to stop these offenders from running away. Legislative changes 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.Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Shekhar Roy said fixing a minimum threshold of ₹100 crore would only help the culprits, as they could form 20 or more companies, and seek loans in the name of each. Congress MP Vivek Tankha said only 10 per cent of black money existed outside the country; he asked the Centre for the details of the measures it had taken to recover ill-gotten wealth within. Tankha questioned the Centre’s wisdom in fixing the minimum cap of ₹100 crore. “Even an offender of ₹10 crore is bad,” he added. Goyal, however, justified the financial limit and said the measure was to “catch the big offenders and not to clog the courts”.Neeraj Shekhar of the SP alleged that several economic offenders had left the country with the “active support” of the Centre. “Make laws which can be implemented. How much black money has come back to the country in the last four years?” he asked.Later talking to reporters, Congress MP and spokesperson MV Rajeev Gowda said there are wide legal loopholes in the “hurriedly brought” Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill. “If the constitutionally problematic sections are struck down – nothing worthwhile shall remain in the Bill – it is in no way different from existing law. Is this not just a ‘face-saving exercise’ after Modi government’s massive failure to tackle 13 bank loot scams worth ₹70,000 crore where at least half a dozen people have officially run away after duping banks? Where are the extradition treaties with those countries to bring these fugitives back?” Published on SHARE COMMENTSlast_img

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