The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 notified [Highlights]

The President on 31-07-2018 gave his assent to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, as notified on 01-04-2018, w.e.f. 21-04-2018.

The Parliament enacted a crucial piece of legislation called the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 to provide measures to deter fugitive economic offenders from evading the process of law in India by staying outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts, to preserve the sanctity of the rule of law in India and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Salient Features  —

  • The Act defines benami properties or benami transactions  under S. 2(1)(b) as the meaning assigned to them under clauses (8) and (9) respectively of section 2 of the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988; and Fugitive Offender under S.2(1)(f) as “fugitive economic offender” as any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a Scheduled Offence has been issued by any Court in India, who —
  • has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or
  • being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
  • The Act deals with the provision of ‘Application for declaration of fugitive economic offender and procedure’, which is to contain all the reasons for the belief by the Director or the Deputy-Director as defined under S.49(1) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,2002 ,that an individual is a fugitive economic offender; any information available as to the whereabouts of the fugitive economic offender; a list of properties or the value of such properties believed to be the proceeds of crime, including any such property outside India for which confiscation is sought; a list of properties or benamies properties owned by the individual in India or abroad for which confiscation is sought etc.
  • The Powers of Director and other officers for the purposes of section 4, to be the same as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 while trying a suit in respect of the matters such as discovery and inspection; enforcing the attendance of any person, including any officer of a reporting entity and examining him on oath; compelling the production of records; receiving evidence on affidavits or Issuing commissions for examination of witnesses and documents etc.
  • The Authorities appointed for the purposes of the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 shall be the Authorities for the purposes of this Act.
  • Regarding the Rules of Evidence, Section 16 provides that the Director or the person authorised by the Director to file the application under section 4 shall be responsible for establishing the burden of proof.
  • Also the standard of proof applicable to the determination of facts by the Special Court under this Act shall be preponderance of probabilities.
  • This Act by virtue of Section 26 repeals The Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018.

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