SC allows hearing of review plea by Karti Chidambaram against PMLA judgment 

A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ramana and comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar, said: "The application for oral hearing is allowed. List the matter in the Court on 25.08.2022."

New Delhi: A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, on Wednesday allowed hearing on the review petition filed by Congress MP Karti Chidambaram against the PMLA judgment.

Chidambaram’s review petition will be heard on Thursday.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ramana and comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar, said: “The application for oral hearing is allowed. List the matter in the Court on 25.08.2022.”

Chidambaram sought review of the recent PMLA judgment, upholding the Enforcement Directorate’s powers in connection with attachment of property involved in money laundering, arrest, search and seizure under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice considered the review petition inside the chamber.

According to Chidambaram, the judgment deserves to be reviewed on grounds of grave error and being contradictory to earlier judgments and provisions of the Constitution.

On July 27, the top court had delivered its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002.

On Tuesday, the PMLA judgment also received a critique from a three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice.

In a 96-page judgment dealing with provisions of Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, the top court made a short remark on the PMLA judgment titled ‘Vijay Madanlal Choudary’, which was pronounced by a bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar (now retired) on July 27.

The top court noted that in Vijay Madanlal Choudary & Ors vs. Union of India, this court dealt with confiscation proceedings under Section 8 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) and limited the application of Section 8(4) of PMLA concerning interim possession by authority before conclusion of final trial to exceptional cases.

“The court distinguished the earlier cases in view of the unique scheme under the impugned legislation therein. Having perused the said judgment, we are of the opinion that the aforesaid ratio requires further expounding in an appropriate case, without which, much scope is left for arbitrary application,” it said.

Only July 27, the top court affirmed the stringent provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with definition of proceeds of crime, power of arrest, search & seizure, attachment of properties and also the twin bail conditions.

A bench headed by Justice Khanwilkar and comprising Justices Maheshwari and Ravikumar said: “The international bodies have been discussing the menace of money laundering on regular basis for quite some time; and strongly recommended enactment of stringent legislation for prevention of money-laundering and combating with the menace thereof including to prosecute the offenders and for attachment and confiscation of the proceeds of crime having direct impact on the financial systems and sovereignty and integrity of the countries”.

It added that 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.

The top court affirmed the validity of Sections 5 (attachment of property), 8(4) (taking possession of attached property),3 (definition of money laundering), 17 (search and seizure), 18 (search of persons), 19 (powers of arrest), 24 (reverse burden of proof), 45 (offences being cognizable and non-bailable and twin conditions for grant of bail by court), 50 (statements made to ED officials), and 44 (offences triable by special court).

However, the top court left the question whether some of the amendments to the PMLA, 2002 could not have been enacted by the Parliament by way of a Finance Act, to be considered by a larger bench.

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