Snehal Upadhyay-

Published on: August 23, 2021, at 10:18 IST

The Supreme Court has put a stay on the trial proceeding which was being conducted under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) against former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and 21 others in the Panchkula industrial plots allotment case.

The Constitutional Bench comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice V Ramasubramanian was dealing with a bundle of petitions and decided to put a stay on PMLA Court’s trial which was being held with respect to the 2019’s Supreme Court’s order.

In its December 2019 order, the Apex Court had put a stay in a similar PMLA case which was pending before the Special Court in Chennai. The December 2019 SC order came when a bench of the Madras HC dismissed a petition which sought quashing of PMLA proceedings as the predicate or scheduled offence investigated by the  was closed by the order of the court.

Vikram Chaudhari, the Counsel representing the petitioner and an accused in the Panchkula industrial plots allotment case, Lt Col OP Dahiya (retd) stated before the apex court that the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) had failed to file any chargesheet pertaining to the Panchkula case hence no trial could begin for the predicate or scheduled offence, the trial under PMLA cannot proceed.

Petitioners Counsel also cited a case of Nikesh Tarachand Shah where the Apex Court had decided in 2017 that trial of both the predicate offences and PMLA cannot go in hand in hand.

The explanation inserted in 2019 for removal of doubts about section 44 of PMLA said the jurisdiction of special court while dealing with the offence under PMLA, during investigation, inquiry or trial under this act, shall not be dependent upon any orders passed in respect of the scheduled offence, and the trial of both sets of offences by the same court shall not be construed as joint trial.

Though the 2019 amendment in PMLA amended this, Vikram Chaudhari contended that this is also under challenge.

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