Running Argument

The flaws in the draft Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill

01 August 2017
The zeal the government has shown in pursuing Vijay Mallya is not seen—at least publicly— in the cases of Essar and Bhushan Steel, which involve far greater debts.
vladimir rys / getty images

During the telecast of the group-stage Champions Trophy match between India and Pakistan at Edgbaston in early June, a cameraperson picked out the beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya in the crowd, coolly sipping a drink. Mallya—whose brand, Kingfisher, was the tournament’s “Official Lager Partner”—promised in interviews after the game that he would attend all of the Indian team’s remaining Champions Trophy matches.

Mallya’s appearance at the match created a media flurry, since he is wanted by Indian law-enforcement agencies for multiple alleged economic offences, including cheating and money laundering. He is also estimated to owe around Rs 9,000 crore to public-sector banks.

Mallya left India in March 2016, before investigative agencies could secure warrants for his arrest. This April, he was arrested by the UK police on behalf of Indian authorities, and was then released on bail. The Indian government had already been facing criticism for not bringing Mallya to book, and his appearance at the match two months after his arrest only earned it more flak.

Abhinav Sekhri is a lawyer practising in the trial courts of Delhi. His primary interests are criminal law and procedure.

Keywords: Vijay Mallya Law Legislation Fugitive economic offenders Bill COFEPOSA MISA SAFEMA