On 5 January, a special anti-corruption court declared debt-ridden liquor baron Vijay Mallya a ‘fugitive economic offender’ under the provisions of a new law, which sought to bring to book big-ticket tycoons and businessmen who have left the country to escape indictment.
Seen as the first major win for the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act – that was passed last August – Mallya will now be subject to the provisions of the law, which means that his property and assets will be confiscated and brought under the control of the Union government.
Mallya had first left the country in 2016 after he was accused of defaulting on loan payments to the tune of thousands of crores. At present, he is wanted for having unpaid dues amounting to Rs 9,000 crore in India.
Coming close on the heels of the Nirav Modi-Punjab National Bank multi-crore bank fraud in 2018, the Act, at the time, was viewed by the government as a strong measure to come down on economic offenders who used their wealth and connections to avoid prosecution by fleeing the country.
According to PRS, a legislative research organisation, the law applies to somebody:
In order to declare a person a FEO, the agency will have to file an application in a special court and attach the details of all the property to be confiscated.