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SC upholds Enforcement Directorate's power to arrest under PMLA

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the ED right to arrest and seize assets under the PMLA

SC upholds Enforcement Directorates power to arrest under PMLA
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) right to arrest and seize assets under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Rejecting several petitions challenging the constitutional validiity of several provisions of the PMLA, the top court, led by Justice AM Khanwilkar, said that the ED should put more information in the public domain.

He also added that the lack of judicial officers dealing with the PMLA cases is a serious issue and has asked the government to address the problem.

This judgement bears importance since it dealt with issues relating to investigatory powers, calling witnesses, arrests and seizures performed by the ED and the PMLA bail process.

The ruling has set a precedent on how ED and other probe agencies are allowed to act in any current or future cases.

The cases before the Supreme Court include Karti Chidambaram's INX media investigation, corruption charges against former Akali minister Sarwan Phillaur and his son, the e-tender scam in Madhya Pradesh, money laundering charges against diamond trader Ritesh Jain, and other businessmen.

The recent controversy over the bribery and money laundering allegations against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, who had approached the Supreme Court against summons issued to him by the ED, is also part of the clutch of cases.

According to a reply tabled by the Centre in Lok Sabha, as on 2021-22 there are 1,180 cases recorded under the PMLA, while the cases from 2012-13 till date stood at 3,985.

The petitioners contended that the investigation agencies effectively exercise police powers, so they should be obligated to follow the CrPC while conducting investigations.

Since the ED is not a police agency, statements made by the accused to the ED during an investigation can be used against the accused in judicial proceedings, which is against the legal rights of the accused, the petitioners claimed.

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