17 Opposition Parties Express ‘Deep Apprehensions’ Over SC’s PMLA Verdict, Seek Review

New Delhi: Seventeen Opposition parties, including the Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, and one independent Rajya Sabha member, on Wednesday signed a joint statement over the Supreme Court’s judgment upholding various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, including the powers of the Enforcement Directorate to arrest, search, seize, and attach assets related to the cases of money laundering. 

“We place on record our deep apprehension on the long-term implications of the recent Supreme Court judgment, in entirety, the amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2022, without examining whether some of these amendments could have been enacted by the way of Finance Act. If tomorrow the Supreme Court holds that the challenged amendments through Finance Act is bad in law, then the entore exercise would become futile and loss of judicial time,” the letter read tweeted by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. 

“Yet, we are compelled to point out that the judgment should have awaited the verdict of a larger Bench for examining the constitutionality of the Finance Act route to carry out amendments.” “These far-reaching amendments strengthened the hands of a government, indulging in political vendetta of the worst kind, by using these very amended laws relating to money laundering and investigation agencies, to target its political opponents in a mischievous and malicious manner,” the opposition parties alleged.

“We are also very disappointed that the highest judicial authority, invited to give an independent verdict on the lack of checks and balances in the Act, has virtually reproduced arguments given by the executive in support of draconian amendments. We hope that the dangerous verdict will be short lived and constitutional provisions will prevail soon,” the opposition leaders said in their joint statement.

“We hope that the dangerous verdict will be short lived and constitutional provisions willl prevail soon,” the letter read further. 

Apart from TMC and AAP, the letter was signed by Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), CPI, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party (SP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK). 

On July 27, the apex court upheld various sections of the anti-money laundering law that were challenged. In its verdict, the Court termed Sections 5, 8 (4), 15, 17 and 19 of the PMLA as constitutional, the sections which deal with the power of the ED under the law to arrest, attach and search and seize. 

The court noted in its order that the ED officials were not police officers. Hence, statements recorded before ED officials “are valid as evidence”. Also, while arresting an accused, the ED was not bound to reveal the grounds of the arrest.