The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday told the Bombay High Court that the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act has been enforced to ensure that fugitive economic offenders like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi return to India to face action in accordance with law.
A division bench of Justice I A Mahanty and Justice A M Badar was hearing an appeal filed by Mallya challenging a special court order declaring him “fugitive economic offender”, the first such designation under the FEO Act.
The reply filed by ED on this matter said the objective of the FEO Act is to provide for measures to deter fugitive economic offenders from evading the process of law in India by staying outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts and to preserve the sanctity of the rule of law in India.
The affidavit added that the absence of offenders from the judicial process in India has several deleterious consequences. It not only strikes at the very root of the investigation in criminal cases, it also undermines and wastes precious time of courts and affects the very concept of rule of law in India.
The ED counsel told the court that the agency is making an effort to bring back the accused using the FEO Act. Similarly, there are applications of Modi and Choksi which are in process under the FEO Act. The ED further told the court that if Mallya would have returned to India they would have terminated the order. The hearing in the FEO Act applications moved by the ED against Modi and Choksi is likely to commence this month before the special Court.
The ED also informed the court that the special court’s January 5 order only dealt with the first part of declaring Mallya fugitive economic offender, it is yet to deal with the aspect of asset confiscation.
Senior counsel Amit Desai, representing Mallya, on Monday told the HC that this appeal is the first such appeal before the court, challenging the new legislation of FEO Act. Calling it a draconian law, Desai said that Mallya does not want the properties to be returned to him, but the need of the hour is to deal with the banks and creditors. He further sought a stay on the confiscation of assets hearing before the special court. The bench refused to interfere with the confiscation hearing, adding that the special court should proceed with it. It fixed a date of April 24 for the parties to argue on the application of the FEO Act.