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Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

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5 task forces set up on economic offences code

Mohan Padmanabhan

Kolkata , Nov. 24

THE West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, commissioned with the task of formulating the draft outline of an Economic Offences Code for India (EOCI) by the Government, has decided to set up five specialised task forces soon.

The offences code envisages a unified legal framework for effective enforcement of criminal justice, especially since the existing justice delivery system has "remained an ineffective instrument to control corporate criminality even in extreme cases, as demonstrated in the innumerable financial scams brought to light since the 1990s.

Talking to Business Line on the outcome of a recent two-day national workshop on "Formulation of EOCI", for elicitng views of experts in law, criminal justice affairs and what actually constitutes an economic offence, Dr A.P. Mukherjee, Co-ordinator of the project, said some of these task forces would tackle critical issues such as broad parameters of the proposed substantive and procedural laws, the evidentiary part, which economic offences could be included and of what dimension (financial and in other respects) and their definitions, the kind of institutional framework needed for administering, enforcing the EOCI (including intelligence collection and investigation) and for prosecuting offenders.

The senior students of the national university would also be involved in various preparatory aspects of the task forces. They have already been involved in preparation of case studies of important economic scams ( such as securities scam, Harsha Mehta case, UTI scam etc.), their modus operandi and gaps in the existing laws and regulations, which actually facilitated the scams.

Some case studies would also look into financial scams in other countries, like Enron and Anderson cases.

Mr Mukherjee said once the task forces are ready with their reports, a final brainstorming session would be held at Delhi or Bhopal (where the National Judicial Academy, headed by Mr Madhava Menon, is located) in February, where besides top officials of law enforcement agencies, legal luminaries, chartered accountants and company secretaries, bankers, stock exchange and stock broking experts and representatives of chambers of commerce and industries of proven expertise would also participate.

Dr Mukherjee said the project has been taken up under a UNDP-funded `Economic Reforms Programme' approved by the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. The research-based tasks, which also included formulation of an ECOI, encompass subjects like company law, corporate governance, insolvency & bankruptcy law, financial sector regulation and WTO and the Indian Agriculture issues in transition.

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5 task forces set up on economic offences code

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