[ecis2016.org] In its 545-page judgement, the apex court also upheld the Constitutional validity of several PLLA provisions.
The Supreme Court on July 27, 2022, upheld the validity of powers granted to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Stating that the PMLA law is not arbitrary, the top court upheld the ED’s powers to arrest, attach property, search & seize, summon individuals for questioning and conducting raids without receiving a prior approval from a court under the act.
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In its 545-page judgement, the apex court also upheld the Constitutional validity of several PLLA provisions. The ED is the executive body the enforced the PMLA law.
The SC ruling on a batch of over 200 petitions filed by several persons facing PMLA proceedings is likely to disappoint both political parties as businesses, which were expecting the top court to rein in the powers of the ED, which has often been accused of misusing its “unbridled” and “arbitrary” powers. Among the petitioners challenging the provisions of the PMLA were Congress MP Karti Chidambaram and former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti, former Ranbaxy vice-chairman Shivinder Mohan Singh, Zoom Developer’s promoter Vijay M Choudhary, Delhi businessman Gagan Dhawan, former Bhushan Steel promoter and MD Neeraj Singal and alleged hawala operator Farooq Mohammed Hanif Sheikh.
“Money-laundering is one of the heinous crimes, which not only affects the social and economic fabric of the nation, but also tends to promote other heinous offences, such as terrorism, offences related to NDPS Act, etc. It is a proven fact that international criminal network that supports home grown extremist groups relies on transfer of unaccounted money across nation States… it is imperative for the State to frame such a stringent law, which not only punishes the offender proportionately but also helps in preventing the offence and creating a deterrent effect,” the SC said in its order.
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In the past few years, the ED has, among others, attached properties owned by several errant real estate developers, including Unitech, Supertech, Patliputra Builders, etc., under the PMLA.
“The provisions in 2002 Act are not only to investigate into the offence of money-laundering but more importantly to prevent money-laundering and to provide for confiscation of property related to money laundering and matters connected therewith and incidental thereto,” the SC added.
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