PMLA | Special Court has the power to try offence of money laundering as well as scheduled offence

Appellate Tribunal for PMLA Act: The Coram of Ananya Ray (Member) directed to keep an appeal filed against an order directing attachment of properties bought from proceeds of money laundering, till final disposal of the matter by Special Court.

The present appeal was filed against order vide which attachment of 14 immovable properties and 2 movable properties, which were alleged as having been acquired from the proceeds of scheduled offences under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, was confirmed.

Appellant’s main plea was that he had already been tried by the Sessions Court and been acquitted by it. Hence, once there was no scheduled offence, there could not be proceeds of crime, and therefore attachment of the properties was liable to be set aside.

The Tribunal noted that Section 43(1) of the PMLA empowers the Central Government to designate one or more Courts of Session as Special Court for the trial of offence punishable under Section 4 PMLA. Further, Section 43(2) of the Act prescribes that the Special Court shall also try an offence (other than the offence of money laundering) with which the accused may have been charged under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. A joint reading of these provisions indicated that the Special Court has must try the offence of money laundering as well as the scheduled offence.

It was opined that the Session Courts had not examined Section 4 of PMLA along with the schedule offence as mandated under Section 44 of PMLA. Hence, it could not be said that appellant’s acquittal had attained finality. Since the appellant’s case had already been taken cognizance of by the Special Court, therefore the instant appeal was directed to be kept in abeyance until final disposal of the case by the Special Court.[Bharat Yadav v. Deputy Director, Directorate of Enforcement, Patna, 2019 SCC OnLine ATPMLA 2, decided on 03-04-2019]

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