Appellate Tribunal for Prevention of Money Laundering Act: The Bench of Manmohan Singh, J. and G.C. Mishra (Member) allowed an appeal filed against the order of Adjudicating Authority directing freezing of accounts.

Respondent herein had filed an application under Section 17(4) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 for extending the debit freeze on 49 accounts which were involved in money laundering in order to locate proceed of crime for the purpose of further investigation. The said application was rejected holding that the same was beyond the scope of Sections 17(1-A) and 17(4) of PMLA.

Section 17(1-A) of the Act states that “where it is not practicable to seize such record or property, the authorized officer may make an order to freeze such property whereupon the property shall not be transferred or otherwise dealt with, except with the prior permission of the officer”. It is well settled that if the statute requires a thing to be done in a particular manner, it must be in that manner otherwise the action is vitiated. On realizing its mistake about freezing, the Adjudicating Authority directed respondent to file a fresh application, and in that application, it passed a fresh order directing freezing of accounts. The present appeal has been filed against this fresh order of the Adjudicating Authority under Section 26 of PMLA.

The Tribunal opined that the Adjudicating Authority had exceeded its jurisdiction in directing the respondent to file a fresh application. Such jurisdiction was not within its domain as the previous application of respondent was decided on merits.  It was concluded that the second application filed by the respondent was not maintainable on the basis of the same material. In view thereof, the impugned order was held to be not sustainable in law and the same was set-aside.[Abhishek Paddar Haripoddar v. Deputy Director, Directorate of Enforcement, Patna, FPA-PMLA-2323/PTN/2018, decided on 01-02-2019]

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