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Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018

India has several laws with regard to the prevention of economic offences or economic frauds right from money lending institutions, finance institutions, financial scams, money laundering and currency counterfeiting or any another matter results in economic crimes. There are also money scams done by individuals or by group of people. Such fraudulent acts by any person creates irrecoverable economic loss in the revenue and the offender after the commitment of the crime take resort in foreign countries to avoid the legal proceedings ought to initiate against them. Many money scams of enormous amount are committed by business tycoons, industrialists or anyone in the influential strata.

In order to prevent and initiate legal proceedings to the offenders who commits any economic scam above 100Crore and leave the jurisdiction of India to evade legal proceedings, The Fugitive Economic offenders Act was enacted on 31st July 2018. The act contains three chapters including comprehensive 26 sections and one schedule. The major legal proceeding initiated against the alleged offenders is the confiscation of their property. Section 3 of the act defines the applicability of the act to anyone who is an economic offender and fugitive on or after the existence of this Act.
Chapter 2 details all the procedures from the declaration of an offender as fugitive economic offender to the confiscation of his property. A person is declared as fugitive economic offender through the application of the Director or any officer not below the rank of Deputy Director designated or authorized as directors by the virtue of the act in the prescribed form and manner by the special court constituted as per section 2 (n) of the act. The application should contain the exact reason or information that required to declare an individual as fugitive economic offender.

Through Non Obstante clause by virtue of section 5(2) attachment of properties prior to declaration is also implemented not being inconsistent with other provisions of the act. As per section 12 if the special Court is satisfied with information provided to declare an individual as fugitive economic offender shall declare him to be so in writing. The exceptional feature of the Act is stated in section 14 of the act that prevents the offender to make any civil claim with regard to civil claim defense or initiation. The burden of proof to prove the offence lies on the Director or any person authorized by the Director who made the application before special court.

Chapter 3 contains the provisions for appeal to the High court as per section 17. Central Government is empowered to amend the Schedule according to section 19 of the act and rule making powers by virtue of section 23.
The enactment had limited provisions and functions mostly on preponderance of probabilities and has to maintain balance with the existing laws in force with regard to attachment and confiscation of the property of the offender, if properly implemented the crime rate of economic offence can be effectively reduced to a great extent and thereby protecting the economy of the country.

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