Patna High Court stays PMLA Case Against Liquor Supplier for Non-Scheduled Offence Under Section 120B of IPC

LI Network

Published on: February 18, 2024 at 20:07 IST

The Patna High Court has issued a temporary stay on the proceedings in a money laundering case initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against an individual accused of supplying liquor in Bihar, allegedly violating the Bihar Excise Prohibition Act, 2016.

The Court’s decision was based on the Supreme Court’s judgment in Pavana Dibbur Vs. The Directorate of Enforcement, which emphasized that the offense punishable under Section 120B of the IPC becomes a scheduled offense only if the conspiracy alleged is for committing an offense specifically included in the schedule.

The petitioner sought the quashing of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) initiated by the ED against the petitioner and others for allegedly generating proceeds of crime from the supply of liquor in violation of the Bihar Excise Prohibition Act, 2016.

Justice Satyavrat Verma presided over the case and instructed the ED to respond to the petition seeking the dismissal of the ECIR filed in 2022.

Advocate Lokesh Kumar Singh represented the petitioner, and Advocate Ankit Kumar Singh appeared for the Union of India.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that the ED could not have initiated the ECIR for an offense not listed as a scheduled offense.

They pointed out that conspiracy under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) could only make an offense a scheduled offense if it was specifically included in the schedule.

Moreover, the petitioner’s counsel highlighted that the alleged offenses were not scheduled offenses under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, and thus, the ED lacked the authority to proceed against the petitioner. They emphasized that several FIRs against the petitioner had already been stayed by the court.

The Union of India and the Enforcement Directorate requested six weeks to file a counter affidavit responding to the quashing application and addressing the arguments presented by the petitioner’s counsel.

The Court granted the request and scheduled the next hearing for April 29, 2024.

In addition to the temporary stay on further proceedings in ECIR until the next hearing, the Court clarified that the stay applied only to the petitioner in this case.

CaSe Title: Sunil Bhardwaj v. Deputy Director

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