The Centre has notified procedures for execution of court order to bring back economic fugitives. This will help in serving and executing warrants against fugitive economic offenders.
The gazette notification said the rules will be known as ‘Fugitive Economic Offenders (Procedure for sending Letter of Request to the Contracting State for Service of Notice and Execution of Order of the Special Court) Rules, 2018’ and come into effect from the date of publication in the gazette i.e. May 25. The rules come on the back of the ordinance promulgated on April 21 and have came into force immediately. The ordinance aims to catch fugitive economic offenders such as Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, among others.
According to the rules, procedure for service of notice of the Special Court on fugitive economic offenders abroad through the letter of request will include issuance of notice by the judicial authority to an individual who is alleged to be a fugitive economic offender. The service of notice of the Special Court shall be made through a letter of request and request will be made in a specified performa. “While finalising the letter of request, the Enforcement Directorate shall ensure the compliance of all legal requirements. The authorised officer shall forward the letter of request in the form in triplicate to the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the notification said.
It further mentioned that the nodal officer in the Union Home Ministry will ensure the timely transmission of the letter of request to the contracting State. At the same time, the letter of request along with notice of the Special Court will be forwarded to the authority concerned for effecting service in the contracting State. Here the State means a sovereign country.
According to the Finance Ministry, the need for the Ordinance arose as there have been instances of economic offenders fleeing the jurisdiction of Indian courts, anticipating the commencement, or during the pendency, of criminal proceedings. The absence of such offenders from Indian courts has several deleterious consequences – first, it hampers investigation in criminal cases; second, it wastes precious time of courts of law, third, it undermines the rule of law in India. The existing civil and criminal provisions in law are not entirely adequate to deal with the severity of the problem. Though a Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha, but could not be taken up prompting the need of ordinance.