Modi’s assertion, in his virtual address to G20 ministers at a meeting in Kolkata, comes a day after his government introduced in Parliament a new bill — Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita — that includes a provision for non-conviction-based confiscation of properties of proclaimed offenders in India and overseas.
The bill is set to replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code. Non-conviction-based confiscation refers to takeover of assets of offenders even when their conviction has not been secured. The PM said such confiscations would expedite the recovery of foreign assets of economic offenders.
He said this would ensure “swift return and extradition of criminals” after the due judicial process. Since India has enacted the Economic Offenders Act (in 2018), assets worth over $1.8 billion (around Rs 15,000 crore) have been recovered from fugitives, in addition to attachment of assets worth $12 billion (around Rs 1 lakh crore) under Prevention of Money Laundering Act since 2014, he added.
“India has a strict policy of zero tolerance against corruption,” the PM said, underlining that India is leveraging technology and e-governance to create a transparent and accountable ecosystem. Priorities of the group should be action-oriented such as law enforcement cooperation through information sharing, strengthening asset recovery mechanisms, and enhancing the integrity and effectiveness of anti-corruption authorities, the PM said.
The G20 ministerial group has already reached an understanding on informal cooperation between law enforcement agencies which will prevent criminals from exploiting legal loopholes when crossing borders, he added.
“It will send a strong signal about our joint fight against corruption,” the PM emphasised, adding that the collective efforts of G20 nations can significantly support the fight against corruption and a huge difference can be made through enhanced international cooperation. For the last few years, the government has been pushing for international cooperation on the issue and India has flagged it as a priority during its presidency.
The PM said the highest impact of corruption is borne by the poor and the marginalised. It affects resource utilisation, distorts markets, impacts service delivery and ultimately diminishes people’s quality of life, he added. Modi said the leakages and gaps in welfare schemes and government projects are being plugged.
As a result, millions of people in India have received direct benefit transfers into their bank accounts amounting to more than $360 billion, helping save over $33 billion.