The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to list a plea seeking review of its order upholding the Enforcement Directorate’s powers related to arrest, attachment of property involved in money laundering, search and seizure under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
“Okay, we will list it,” a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said after the plea was mentioned before it. It is common experience the world over that money laundering can be a “threat” to the good functioning of a financial system, the court had observed on July 27 while upholding the validity of certain provisions of the PMLA. It underlined that this is not an “ordinary offence”.
The centre has been insisting money laundering is an offence that is committed not only by unscrupulous businessmen but also terror organisations, posing a grave threat to national security.
A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar had said authorities under the 2002 Act are “not police officers as such” and the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) cannot be equated with a First information Report (FIR) under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The bench had said supply of an ECIR copy in every case to the person concerned is not mandatory and it is enough if the ED, at the time of arrest, discloses the grounds of such an arrest.
The petitioners in the case had raised the issue of the contents of ECIR not being disclosed to the accused.
The court’s judgement came on 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.