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Madras HC Stayed Money Laundering Lawsuit Against Fisheries Minister

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Shivani Thakur

Published on: June 30, 2022, at 20:24 IST

On the basis of a case involving disproportionate assets filed by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) in 2006, the Madras High Court delayed a money laundering prosecution brought by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Fisheries Minister Anitha R. Radhakrishnan in December 2020.

The Bench comprising of Justices Paresh Upadhyay and A.D. Jagadish Chandira granted the interim stay of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) till July 14. As Advocate N. Ramesh, representing the ED, sought time to file a detailed counter affidavit to the quash petition preferred by the Minister.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) of 2002, according to Senior Attorney Siddharth Agarwal, cannot be used in this case because it only went into effect on July 1, 2005, while the check period for the case involving disproportionate assets was from May 14, 2001, to March 31, 2006.

The Minister claimed that between 2001 and 2006, while he served as the AIADMK government’s Minister for Housing and Urban Development, the DVAC accused him of amassing 2.68 crore, which was out of proportion to his known sources of income.

The ED sleuths, however, were unaware that the Section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act was only added to the list of scheduled offences under the PMLA in June 2009; when the latter act first went into effect in July 2005, it did not include it.

Therefore, the PMLA being a penal statue, cannot operate retrospectively since that would be in violation of Article 20 (1) (no person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence) of the Constitution.” the Minister contended.