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SC’s ED Ruling: Congress Says Judgement Will Have Far-Reaching Implications For India’s Democracy

SC’s ED Ruling: Congress Says Judgement Will Have Far-Reaching Implications For India’s Democracy

Supreme Court upheld the ED’s powers relating to arrest, attachment of property involved in money laundering, search and seizure under PMLA.

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File photo of Supreme Court. PTI

As the Supreme Court upheld certain powers of the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Congress on Wednesday said the judgment will have far-reaching implications for India's democracy, especially when governments are anchored in "political vendetta".

In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court upheld the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) powers relating to arrest, attachment of property involved in money laundering, search and seizure under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) that were challenged by multiple petitioners including Congress leader Karti Chidambaram

Top opposition politicians including Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi along with P Chidambaram and his son and MP Karti, Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee, also a TMC MP, and Delhi minister Satyendar Jain are among those under the ED's lens for alleged money laundering.

In a statement, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the AQ`judgment pronounced by the Supreme Court on the powers of the Enforcement Directorate today will have far-reaching implications for "our democracy, especially when governments are anchored in political vendetta".

"However, there is one specific aspect of the judgement I would like to address immediately; I had moved the Supreme Court on the blatant misuse of the Money Bill route by the Modi Government, on the amendments made to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. The Supreme Court had issued notice on my petition on July 2nd, 2019. This question remains unresolved in today’s judgment," Ramesh said.

He, however, noted that the court has agreed that they "are conscious of the fact that if that ground of challenge is to be accepted, it may go to the root of the matter and amendments effected vide Finance Act would become unconstitutional or ineffective".

The court has left these matters to be decided by a larger bench, Ramesh said, adding that this is a matter of some gratification.

Observing that it is a common experience world over that money laundering can be a "threat" to the good functioning of a financial system, the apex court upheld the validity of certain provisions of the PMLA, underlining it is not an "ordinary offence".

A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar said authorities under the 2002 Act are "not police officers as such" and the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) cannot be equated with an FIR under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar, said the supply of an ECIR copy in every case to the person concerned is not mandatory and it is enough if ED, at the time of arrest, discloses the grounds of such arrest.

The petitioners in the case had raised the issue of the contents of ECIR not being disclosed to the accused.

The court was hearing a clutch of over 200 petitions filed by individuals and other entities questioning various provisions of the PMLA, a law which the opposition has often claimed has been weaponised by the government to harass its political adversaries. 

(With PTI inputs)
 

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