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SC agrees to relook sweeping PMLA judgment, issues notice to Centre

News Agencies | Updated on: 25 August 2022, 13:03 IST
Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that prima facie two issues relating to the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act need to be reconsidered.

A bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar issued notice to the Centre on the two issues.

The two issues which the Supreme Court prima facie finds to reconsider is judgement upholding various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act including non-providing of Enforcement Case Investigation Repor and reversal of presumption of innocence.

During the hearing, the apex court also noted that there are some issues that needed a re-look but it said that the bench is completely in support of the prevention of black money or money laundering.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said," This is not a standalone provision for our country, but the countries are part of a larger global structure. He also said that it will have global repercussions."

The court also said that the offence of money laundering is serious and the country cannot afford such offences.

The court said that matter will be listed after four weeks.

The review plea, which has been filed by Congress MP Karti Chidambaram was heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana in in-chamber proceedings.

On July 27, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) which empowers the ED for making arrests, conducting search and seizures and attaching proceeds of crime.

The court also held that Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) cannot be equated with First Information Report (FIR) and ED officers are not police officers.

The court was hearing various pleas challenging the various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on Wednesday.

On March 15, the top court reserved its order on a batch of petitions challenging certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Prominent names like Karti Chidambaram and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti were among the petitioners in the case.

Their petitions raised multiple issues including the absence of a procedure to commence investigation and summoning, while the accused was not made aware of the contents of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR).

Section 45 deals with offences to be cognizable and non-bailable Section 50 of the PMLA empowers the 'authority' i.e. Officers of the Enforcement Directorate, to summon any person to give evidence or produce records. All persons summoned are bound to answer questions put to them, and to produce the documents as required by the ED officers, failing which they can be penalised under the PMLA.

However, the Centre had justified the constitutional validity of the provisions of PMLA.The Centre has apprised the court that around 4,700 cases are being investigated by the Directorate of Enforcement.

Centre said that PMLA is not a conventional penal statute, but is a statute which is aimed at necessarily preventing money laundering, regulating certain activities relatable to money laundering, aims at confiscating the "proceeds of crime" and the property derivedtherefrom and also requires offenders to be punished by the competent court after filing of a complaint.

Centre submitted that India, and its version of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, is merely a cog in this international vehicle. Centre submitted that India, as a signatory to the treaties and an important participant in the international process and the fight against money-laundering, is bound legally and morally, to adopt the global best practices and respond to the changing needs of the times.


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First published: 25 August 2022, 13:03 IST