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Arvind Kejriwal takes swipe at BJP over Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill: 'Pehle chhote Modi ko bhagaa diya, ab bill la rahe ho'

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a stringent Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill that provides for confiscating assets without conviction in cases where economic offenders flee the country.

Arvind Kejriwal takes swipe at BJP over Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill: 'Pehle chhote Modi ko bhagaa diya, ab bill la rahe ho'
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New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took a swipe at the Modi government on Thursday over the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill that provides for confiscating all assets of absconding fraudsters and loan defaulters.

"First you let 'chhota' (small) Modi flee and now you are bringing the bill," he tweeted.

The Congress has christened jeweller Nirav Modi, a key accused in the alleged PNB fraud which is now pegged at close to USD 2 billion, as 'chhota Modi' (little Modi) and has alleged that he used clout with the government to slip out of the country.

Meanwhile, in a bid to tighten the noose around fugitives like diamond merchant Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya, the Cabinet on Thursday approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill.

The proposed law aims to impound and sell assets of Nirav Modi-type escapees with a view to quickly recover dues. The law will apply to defaulters who have an outstanding of Rs 100 crore or more and have escaped from the country.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the bill, which is likely to be taken to Parliament for approval in the second half of the Budget Session beginning March 5, 2018, defines a fugitive offender as someone against whom a court has issued an arrest warrant for a scheduled offence and who leaves or has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or refuses to return to India to face trial.

The new law is different from the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which also provides for confiscation of assets of economic offenders, he said.

Under PMLA, only profit of crime is confiscated and that too upon conviction. The new law extends to all assets irrespective of whether it is acquired as a result of crime or not, Jaitley said.

"This is triggered by the offender being a fugitive. A trial of fugitive will never be complete," he said, reasoning why confiscation of assets has been provided for. The new law will apply "the moment warrant is issued (and) the court decides the man is not submitting," he added.

The law, though it was announced in the Union Budget for 2017-18, has been hastened after Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi allegedly defrauded state-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) and left the country and are refusing to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.

The new law will allow quicker recovery of dues through a special court from such absconding offenders.

(With PTI inputs)