March 30, 2023

pmla: Only 313 arrested in 20 years, PMLA not draconian: ED | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: In its effort to dispel negative impressions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act sought to be created by high-profile accused, the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that only 313 people have been arrested under the Act in the last 20 years.
The information surprised a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, D Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar, which is hearing 242 petitions challenging some provisions of the PMLA including the stringent bail conditions and arrest of people without supply of ECIR (equivalent to FIR).
Appearing for ED, solicitor general Tushar Mehta detailed the inbuilt statutory safeguards in PMLA for protection of rights of individuals booked in money laundering cases, and said an FIR under PMLA is registered only when the offence is very grave.
Illustrating his point through a chart, the SG said during the last five years, “only 2,086 cases were taken up for investigation under the PMLA out of an approximately 33 lakh FIRs registered by police and other probe agencies for predicate offences”. He said that total PMLA cases pending investigation before ED are 4,700. The solicitor general also informed the court that ED has so far recovered Rs 18,000 crores from Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi and the amount has been handed over to the banks from which the fugitive businessman had taken loan.
Terming the allegations of petitioners of indiscriminate slapping of PMLA to wreak vengeance against political opponents as a red herring, Mehta gave a year-wise break up of 2,086 cases registered in the last five years: 2016-17 (200); 2017-18 (148); 2018-19 (195); 2019-20 (562); 2020-21 (981).
In contrast, the annual registration of the cases under anti-money laundering laws in the UK was 7,900; USA 1,532; China 4,691; Hong Kong 1,832 and Russia 2,764, the SG said.
The SG said, “India, and its version of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, is merely a cog in this international vehicle. It is submitted that India, as a signatory to the treaties and an important participant in the international process and the fight against money-laundering, is bound legally and morally to adopt the global best practices and respond to the changing needs of the times.”
However, Justice Khanwilkar-led bench said, “It (the international collective wisdom) may not be very helpful as the validity of the PMLA had to be tested as per the constitutional parameters.”

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