New Delhi, May 2 (ILNS): The Supreme Court recently issued Notice in a Plea challenging the constitution validity of Section 44 (1) (a) and Section 44 (1) (c) of the Prevention Of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
A divisional bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Aniruddha Bose has sought the Centre’s response while tagging the matter with the other similarly paced matter pending before the Apex Court.
The petition has been filled by employees of Standard Chartered Bank who left the said bank in 2020 and 2014 respectively alleging that the Special Court under PMLA cannot try offences triable by Courts designated under the Criminal Code of Procedure.
The plea stated that after 9 months from the date of their resignation a complaint was filed by Hassad to lodge an FIR under section 420 read with 120B Of the Indian Penal Code against the Petitioners and others, alleging that the petitioners has induced him to purchase shares held by SCPE in company.
It has been alleged by the Petitioner that Section 44 (1) (a) deprives a person accused only of the scheduled offences, but not under section 4 of the PMLA of the following :-
The right to be tried by a Magistrate – First Class in accordance with the procedure established by law and enacted by Parliament i.e. the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
The right of a First Appeal to the Sessions Court from the final judgment of the Magistrate u/s 374(3).
The right of Revision to the High Court u/s 401 Cr. P.C, from an appellate judgment of the Sessions Court u/s 374(3).
Accordingly, an accused pcrson’s right under Article 21 of the Constitution is violated by Section 44(1)(a) PMLA.
Thc non-obstante clause in Section 44(1)(a) of the Act does not override the provisions in various special statutes pertaining to the exclusive power of special judges/special courts to try offences under those statutes.
Whereas, In regards to Section 44 (1) (c) it has been alleged by the Petitioner that the discretion of the authority as to in which case such an application must be made is unfettered and not subjected to any rational criteria. The discretion, therefore, is to be exercised without any guidelines thereby violating Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
The divisional bench while issuing notice in the Matter, listed the matter for further hearing along with other similarly placed matter. (ILNS)GM/MN