Understanding the Concept of the Fugitive Economic Offender Act

Published On: 18th February, 2024

Authored By: Deepak Kumar
Lovely Professional University


Numerous elements, such as entrepreneurs, human capital, skilled political leaders, etc., affect a country’s economy to expand. But what happens if the person at the top, who is knowledgeable in many different subjects, acts unethically? For instance, tax evasion, money laundering, corruption, and other such practices cause socioeconomic problems and finally bring about the collapse of the country. India’s economy is being hindered by corruption, which is the main problem. Regarding ranking, the Indian nation is ranked 85th out of 180 nations in Transparency Index’s 2022 corruption perceptions index. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, just enacted by parliament in 2018, will be discussed in this article.

Definition and Objective of this Act

  • The Latin definition of “fugitive” is “to flee.” Under this act, someone who has performed any crime, such as counterfeiting, fraud, deception, etc. involving more than 100 crores, and has a warrant issued against them, and has fled to not face criminal charges, is referred to as a fugitive economic offender. Section 2(f) of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 defines it. This act’s primary goal is to prevent those who depart the nation after committing such economic offences and to force them to face legal proceedings.
  • We can observe the rising patterns of corruption in India daily. After committing such economic offences, many offenders fled the nation and fled to another country to avoid being prosecuted. Additionally, our legal system and laws were insufficient to provide justice, which caused people to lose faith in the system and become even more inspired to commit corruption or simply leave the nation. That’s why the Indian parliament enacted legislation to extradite some offenders like Vijay Malya and Nirav Modi and bring them back with the help of the court system and face charges for the crimes they committed and confiscate their properties.

Features of this Act

Who Can file Application and How Offender can be declared as fugitive Offender?

  • If the director or any other officer not below the rank of deputy director has any reason to suspect that a person is a fugitive economic offender, they must file an application to the magistrate of special court asking him to declare the person to be a fugitive economic offender in accordance with Section 4 of the Act.
  • According to section 12 of the Act, the special court, after hearing the application, if satisfied that the individual is a fugitive offender then he may declare him as a fugitive offender.

Power of Director under this Act (Section 6 of the Act)

The director has been given many powers under this act such as: –

  • discovery and inspection of application for Fugitive Economic Offender,
  • receiving evidence on affidavits,
  • issuing commissions for examination,
  • Attachment of property with permission of Court (Under Section 5),
  • Power to survey (under Section 7),
  • Search and Seizure (under Section 8).

Power of the Court under this Act

Attachment of property

  • The court can seize the assets of a fleeing economic offender, and he can designate a director to do so and request that an application be filed within 30 days of the date of attachment.
  • If the individual in question fails to appear in court, the attachment of their property will continue for more than six months after the date of the order of attachment, and the court may prolong this period further.

Notice (Under Section 10)

  • The court has the power to issue a notice to the individual who is believed to be a fugitive economic offender to appear in a court within six weeks from the date of issuance of notice.
  • If the individual does not come within the time frame, such a person can be declared as a fugitive economic offender and their property can be seized.
  • If any individual to whom notice has been issued by the court, and if the person is unable to come but appears through a Counsel, the Court can give one week to reply to the application.

Confiscation of Property

  • No matter where the fleeing economic offender’s properties are situated, the special court has the authority to seize them.
  • If the code determines during the procedures that the person in question is not a fleeing economic criminal, the court will issue an order for the property’s release.
  • A person cannot bring or defend a civil claim under any Indian legislation or in any civil process if the court declares them to be a fugitive economic offender. or any assertion made on the business’s behalf.

On whom does the burden of proof lie?

The onus of proving that a person is a fugitive economic offender or that their property is connected in some way to the profits of crime is on the director or the person to whom the director appoints.


The High Court will hear the appeal, which must be filed within 30 days of the judgment date. If the appellant can provide the High Court with adequate evidence, the appeal period may be extended.


In India, numerous acts are implemented to control corruption, such as the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), and this Fugitive Economic Offender Act works in pair with the PMLA. The Fugitive Economic Offender Act is an essential step toward attacking corruption in India, as well as a deterrent to those who believe they may commit economic crimes and simply depart the nation to avoid legal consequences. So far, 10 people have been found guilty under this act, and approximately 1.8 billion has been recovered, which, while little, has a significant impact given that the entire amount of corruption in India is 921 billion. This act not only confiscates the declared offender’s illegal property, but it also allows the court to seize legitimate that is legal property, if they wish to. This act is assisting people in regaining trust in government to deliver economic justice, which they had previously lost, and it also attempts to bring accountability and transparency.

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