New Delhi, Feb 13: The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill which seeks to provide severe punishment and heavy pecuniary fines for chit fund operators and fraudsters, was passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
The legislation is aimed to help innocuous investors not to fall into the trappings of fraudsters and chit fund operators those played havoc with poor and middle class people in West Bengal and few other eastern states.
The Union cabinet last week had given its green signal to the fresh amendments those provide for severe punishment and heavy pecuniary fines for such operatives to act as deterrent.
The Bill would significantly also provide for 'attachment' of properties and assets by the Competent Authority, and subsequent realisation of assets for repayment to depositors, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said.
He said enough safeguards have been made so that provisions of the law are not misused.
The minister said when rules are framed, the details of the same would be put in the public domain.
Earlier, in a pleasant surprise for the ruling side, the Congress and CPI-M supported the Bill and also sought to corner Trinamool Congress vis-a-vis chit fund scams in eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha.
The Bill also has adequate provisions for disgorgement or 'repayment of deposits' in cases where such schemes indulge in raising the deposits 'illegally'.
Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Md Salim of CPI-M lashed out the Trinamool Congress for their alleged nexus with the chit fund operators.
'Madam Speaker, there are always some corrupt people in all the parties but this Trinamool Congress is entirely a party of corrupt people,' said Mr Salim.
'Mamata Banerjee has come to power with this chit fund money,' he said.
Mr Salim's remarks were greeted by repeated thumping of desks and applause by the ruling party members including Mr Goyal.
He said 'half-a-dozen' Trinamoool members who are raising slogans in the House 'should have been in Bhubaneswar jail'.
'People who are sitting here, should have been in jail,' he said, adding the notorious fraudsters have looted thousands of poor people in the state.
Speaking before him, Congress member Mr Chowdhury supported the Bill moved by Finance Minister Mr Goyal, and said 'Those who looted Bengal, are ruling in the state and come here.'
BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab and TRS leader A P Jithender Reddy cautioned the government that certain provisions of the Bill could be misused.
Mr Mahtab suggested there should be a formal regulatory body and states and the Centre should work together to deal with the menace.
The CBI has lodged about 166 cases in the last four years in chit funds and multi-crore scams, with the maximum in West Bengal and Odisha, sources said.
The earlier version of the Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla on July 18, 2018.
The push for a new law to deal with ponzi operators in seen as a political significant step as the BJP has intensified its political tussle against Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress, specially after a big fracas on February 3 when Kolkata police personnel had stopped CBI from meeting and questioning Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar. (UNI)