Supreme Court: As Congress MP Karti P. Chidambaram has sought review of the 3-judge bench verdict on the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar, JJ has agreed to hear the review petition after observing that prima facie, it appears that at least two of the issues raised in the petition require consideration. The Court has hence issued notice in the matter.
In the judgment dated 27.07.2022 in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 929, the bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar, JJ has, in 545-pages-long judgments, has dealt with various aspects of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and has upheld the validity of certain impugned provisions by holding that the same have reasonable nexus with the object sought be achieved i.e. combatting the menace of money laundering.
While the judgment runs into 545 pages, the key takeaways of the judgment are:
- Unlike FIR, the Enforcement Case Information Report need not be formally registered. It is also not mandatory to supply it to the accused.
- The twin conditions provided under Section 45, though restrict the right of the accused to grant of bail, do not impose absolute restraint on the grant of bail. Not just regular bails but this section also applies to anticipatory bail.
- The Court has suggested that the feasibility of placing ED Manual on the official website of ED may be explored.
- The power of arrest given to high-ranking officials under Section 19 is not arbitrary.
- The summon issued under Section 50 is in connection with the inquiry regarding proceeds of crime which may have been attached and pending adjudication before the Adjudicating Authority. It is not necessarily for initiating a prosecution against the noticee as such and hence, not violative of Articles 20(3) and 21 of the Constitution.
- The inclusion of minor offences as scheduled offence is reasonable as the offence of money-laundering is an independent offence and the persons involved in the commission of such offence are grouped together as offenders under this Act. There is no reason to make distinction between them insofar as the offence of money-laundering is concerned.
- Same reasoning has been applied to uphold Section 4 that makes no distinction between person directly involved in the process or activity connected with the proceeds of crime and the other not so directly involved. It has been held that the punishment under Section 4 is not in relation to the predicate offence, but offence of money-laundering under Section 3 of the 2002 and hence valid.
- The vacancies at the appellate Tribunal must be filled at the as otherwise the aggrieved persons have to rush to the High Court on every occasion which indeed is avoidable.
- Whether the amendments to PMLA are Finance Bill/Money Bill is a question already pending for consideration by a larger bench in another case. Hence, it was not taken up in this case.
The comprehensive analysis of the judgment can be read here.
[Karti P. Chidambaram v. Directorate of Enforcement, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1084, order dated 26.08.2022]
For Petitioner(s): Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sidharth Luthra, Advocates Arshdeep Singh Khurana, Prateek Chadha, Adit Pujari, Amit Bhandari, Akshat Gupta, Harsh Mittal, Harsh Srivastava, Madhavi Agarwal, Rupali Samuel, Shubhangni Jain, Pankaj Singhal, Hitesh Rai, Aditya Chopra, Ayush Agarwal, Tannavi Sharma, Shally Bhasin (AOR)
For Respondent(s): Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Advocates M. K. Maroria (AOR), Deepabali Dutta, Kanu Agarwal, Zoheb Hossain, Rajat Nair