SC upholds ED powers of inquiry, arrest and attachment of property under PMLA

The Supreme Court today upheld Enforcement Directorate powers of inquiry, arrest and attachment of property under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. Hearing petitions challenging the constitutionality of several provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Apex Court said that it is not mandatory for ED officers to disclose the ground of arrest at the time of detaining an accused in money laundering case.

A bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar while pronouncing the verdict also upheld twin conditions for bail under PMLA.

The Apex Court said, under the stringent PMLA law, the power of arrest, granting bail and seizure of property are all outside the ambit of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The court also held that the ED officials are not Police officials and hence the statements recorded by them under Section 50 of the Act are not hit by Article 20(3) of the Constitution, which guarantees the fundamental right against self-incrimination. The court further held that Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) cannot be equated with an FIR and that it is only an internal document of the ED. Therefore, the CrPC provisions relating to FIR will not apply to ECIR.

The court also directed the Centre to fill up the vacancies in the PMLA Appellate Tribunal.

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