Modified anti-ponzi scheme Bill to be tabled in Assembly

The state government is likely to re-introduce a Bill aimed at protecting the interest of chit fund depositors, which was sent back by the Union government some two weeks ago seeking some modifications, in the December session of the state Assembly.

The West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill, 2013, which was passed by the Assembly following uproar over the Saradha chit fund scam, was withdrawn after the Centre raised objections on some points for which the state government has now made modifications.

The modifications include provision for punishment for those who set up a chit fund but do not intimate state government, increasing the powers of the designated court that is supposed to try cases of cheating and power of absolute attachment (power to the executive and not the judiciary to attach and sell properties of an offender). The Centre has also made some other suggestions for bringing about some technical changes in the Bill.

"The bill, I suppose, is going to be introduced in the next session,'' Shovon Dev Chattopadhyay, government chief whip, told The Indian Express.

However, the government does not seem to be in a tearing hurry to pass the Bill as the Justice Shyamal Sen Commission has been given enough powers by the Calcutta High Court to compensate investors of not only the Sharada Group, but also other chit funds that are unable to pay back their investors.

"The return of the Bill by the Ministry of Home affairs was a political decision as they could easily have passed it and send it for presidential assent. They did not do it and sent it back to us. But the government is not in hurry. The Bill is still lying with the finance department and has not yet reached the law department for the necessary amendments,'' an official said.

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