SC agrees to list plea seeking review of judgment affirming ED’s powers

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to list a plea seeking review of its judgment upholding the Enforcement Directorate’s powers in connection with attachment of property involved in money laundering, arrest, search and seizure under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

As counsel mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, the bench said: “Okay, we will list it.”

Only 27, the top court affirmed the stringent provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with definition of proceeds of crime, power of arrest, search & seizure, attachment of properties and also the twin bail conditions.

A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar (now retired) and comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar said: “The international bodies have been discussing the menace of money laundering on regular basis for quite some time; and strongly recommended enactment of stringent legislation for prevention of money laundering and combating with the menace thereof including to prosecute the offenders and for attachment and confiscation of the proceeds of crime having direct impact on the financial systems and sovereignty and integrity of the countries.”

It added that money laundering is one of the heinous crimes, which not only affects the social and economic fabric of the nation, but also tends to promote other heinous offences, such as terrorism, offences related to NDPS Act, etc.

The top court affirmed the validity of Sections 5 (attachment of property), 8(4) (taking possession of attached property),3 (definition of money laundering), 17 (search and seizure), 18 (search of persons), 19 (powers of arrest), 24 (reverse burden of proof), 45 (offences being cognisable and non-bailable and twin conditions for grant of bail by court), 50 (statements made to ED officials), and 44 (offences triable by special court).

However, the top court left the question whether some of the amendments to the PMLA, 2002 could not have been enacted by the Parliament by way of a Finance Act, to be considered by a larger bench.

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