‘Present laws adequate to deal with defaulters’

Anand Sharma

Anand Sharma  

New Bill a ploy to divert attention: Cong.

A day after the Centre announced a new Bill to deal with fugitive economic offenders, the Congress on Friday said the move was to “deflect attention from the bank scams that happened under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s watch.”

Speaking to The Hindu , the Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, said the current laws gave the Enforcement Directorate (ED) enough power to deal with economic offenders.

“Let the Bill come and we will discuss. But there were enough laws and the ED had the authority and legal mandate to attach the properties of all these people. Why was Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi allowed to flee,” Mr. Sharma asked.

“More important is the fact that there were official complaints against them in the Prime Minister’s Office since 2015 but nothing was done. They were allowed to plunder and flee with Rs. 22,000 crore. And now if you add the amount of Jatin Mehta [owner of Winsome Diamonds who fled in 2016], it will be close to Rs. 30,000 crore. And it all happened under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s watch,” he said.

The Congress leader said the government would have to answer the Opposition on all these issues when the Budget session of Parliament resumes on Monday.

‘Deflecting attention’

“We need answers. And they are deflecting attention. It is not only this new law but also by arresting somebody who was always available for questioning. You allow those who have plundered the banks to scoot and those who have gone with court permission and returned is arrested on landing,” Mr. Sharma said referring to the arrest of Karti Chidambaram, son of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

The Congress leader justified the party’s boycott of the Lokpal selection committee meeting on Thursday over the Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, being referred to as a “special invitee”.

“The Prime Minister isn’t serious about it [Lokpal] and he never had a Lokayukta in Gujarat,” he said.

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