PMLA Appellate Tribunal |  No extension of time for investigation when time period mentioned in the Act

Appellate Tribunal for Prevention of Money Laundering: The Coram comprising of Manmohan Singh, J. (Chairperson) and G.C. Mishra (Member) allowed the appeal against the order under Section 26(1) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. 

The brief facts of the case are that the police report against G.S. Sawhney i.e. husband of Sudeep Kaur Sawhney was filed as it was alleged that with the help of forged power of attorney, the persons attempted to get transferred showroom in favor of O.P. Mittal.  It was alleged on behalf of appellants that the respondent did not record any reason of freezing the bank accounts and also did not communicate any order to the appellant. The respondent intimated the order to the banker of the appellant on which the banker didn’t allow the appellant to operate/withdraw/debit money from the accounts and account was freezed by the bank. The application for the seizure of the account during pendency of the offence beyond 90 days under the Act was allowed by the adjudicating authority. Hence, the present appeal.   

Counsel for the appellant, Deepak Gupta contended that as per the provisions of Section 8 (3)(a) of the PMLA, 2000 the attachment or retention of property or record seized shall continue during the investigation for a period not exceeding ninety days which were already over. 

The Court in light of the facts held that there was no compliance of the said section of the Act and the time period of more than 3 years and 10 months have elapsed and no complaint has been lodged against the appellant and thus the order of defreeze of account was passed by the tribunal. 

Reliance in this regard was also placed on a judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Dipak Babaria v. State of Gujarat, (2014) 3 SCC 502 in which it was held that if a particular thing is to be done in a particular manner, it must be done in that manner only and none other.  [S.K. Sawhney v. Directorate of Enforcement, FPA-PMLA-971of 2015, Order dated 26-04-2019]

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