A vacation bench headed by Justice Bela M. Trivedi said such petitions against the PMLA, in the process seeking consequential reliefs, amounts to bypassing other forum available to the petitioners.
Citing the Vijay Madanlal judgment, the bench, also comprising justice Prashant Kumar Mishra, observed that despite this judgment, a trend is prevalent that petitions filed are filed under Article 32 challenging the constitutional validity of some sections and provisions of the PMLA, which has been decided, and then seek consequential relief.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Enforcement Directorate (ED), vehemently objected to the maintainability of the pleas and requested the court to record some observations in the order against such petitions.
Mehta vehemently argued that there is a trend – challenge law’s constitutionality and then get a no coercive action order, which is anticipatory bail – and added, “people are being approached that instead of asking for anticipatory bail challenge the vires of the legislation”.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, also representing the ED, agreed with Mehta’s submission.
The law officers made these submissions after senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing one of the petitioners, sought court’s permission to withdraw the plea with liberty to approach the high court for bail.
The top court observed that rather than moving the high court to challenge the provisions of the law, the accused were contesting the summons before it and termed this practice “very disturbing”.
It made these observations while hearing pleas filed by people being investigated in the alleged liquor scam case in Chhattisgarh.
In the Madanlal judgment, the apex court had upheld the ED’s powers related to arrest, search, attachment of property involved in money laundering, and seizures under the PMLA. Individuals, under Article 32 of the Constitution, can move the Supreme Court if they feel violation of their fundamental rights.