Enough if ED discloses ground of arrest: SC upholds Money Laundering Act

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the validity of certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and said it is not mandatory to give an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) in every case to the person concerned, reported News 18.

It is enough if the Enforcement Directorate (ED) discloses grounds at the time of arrest, said a bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar.

As per the report, the top court delivered its verdict on a batch of petitions concerning the interpretation of certain provisions of the PMLA. Prominent names like Karti Chidambaram and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti are among the petitioners in the case.

A batch of petitions filed by several persons facing ED proceedings under PMLA, including Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, had alleged that the law is violative of constitutional guarantee of right to liberty and right against self-incrimination under Articles 20 and 21. They have also questioned the alleged unbridled power given to ED and widening of the law to convert any offence into a money-laundering offence.

The Court upheld the validity of Sections 3 (definition of money laundering), 5 (attachment of property), 8(4) [taking possession of attached property), 17 (search and seizure), 18 (search of persons), 19 (powers of arrest), 24 (reverse burden of proof), 44 (offences triable by special court), 45 (offences being cognizable and non-bailable and twin conditions for grant of bail by court).

The Court, as per the report, also rejected the argument about proportionality of punishment under PMLA act with respect to scheduled offences as wholly “unfounded”.

However, the Court held that question of enactment of amendments in 2019 to PMLA Act as money bill has to be decided by a larger bench of seven judges before whom the same question is already pending.

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