Chhattisgarh Government Challenges PMLA Provisions In Supreme Court, Hearing Scheduled For 4 May
Chhattisgarh, governed by Congress, has filed a lawsuit against the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, that the Supreme Court will hear on 4 May.
Representing the state, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi expressed that it raises significant constitutional concerns, requesting an immediate hearing, to a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud.
The suit filed under Article 131 claimed that the Enforcement Directorate and other central probe agencies were intimidating and harassing non-BJP state governments, thereby disrupting their normal functioning, reported The Indian Express.
According to Article 131, the Supreme Court holds original jurisdiction in cases of disagreement between the Government of India and one or more states. It authorises a state to directly approach the Supreme Court in matters of conflict with the central government or any other state.
The complaint filed stated that the Chhattisgarh Government had received reports from officials and other individuals claiming that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was subjecting them to "torture, abuse, and manhandling" under the guise of carrying out an investigation.
As a result, the state was compelled to seek relief from the court due to the ED's blatant and excessive misuse of power, it added.
The lawsuit, submitted by Advocate Sumeer Sodhi, suggested that the “present case is a perfect example of how the central investigation agencies are being misused by those in power in order to intimidate, harass and disturb the normal functioning of an opposition government in the state of Chhattisgarh”.
In July 2002, a three-judge bench of the SC upheld the PMLA law, which grants arrest, search, attachment and seizure powers to the ED in money laundering cases.
The court emphasised that the principle of presumption of innocence for the accused is a fundamental human right; however, Parliament/Legislature may override it through legislation.
Additionally, an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) is not the same as a First Information Report (FIR), and the former may not necessarily be provided to the individual involved in every case.
Furthermore, the court ruled that “it is enough if ED, at the time of arrest, discloses the grounds of such arrest”.
On 25 August 2022, the Supreme Court entertained petitions requesting a review of the verdict and decided to reconsider two of its conclusions - one related to providing the accused with ECIR and the other concerning the burden of proof.
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