Published on: November 21, 2023 at 03:45 IST
In a recent ruling on a money laundering case, the Supreme Court highlighted the necessity for courts to conclude trials promptly when the detention of the accused is extended.
The bench, consisting of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi, underscored the significance of ensuring the right to a speedy trial, as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution, while rejecting a bail application.
Expressing apprehensions about the increasing menace of money laundering, especially with the advent of Artificial Intelligence, the court acknowledged the challenges faced by investigating agencies in comprehending complex transactions involving the use of advanced technology.
The case involved an appeal against the Delhi High Court’s decision denying bail under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Referring to the conditions outlined in Section 45 of the PMLA, the court held them to be mandatory, emphasizing their overriding effect over other Acts as per Section 71 of the PMLA.
Addressing concerns raised in the Vijay Madanlal Chaudhary v. Union of India case, the court clarified that the offense of money laundering is independent of the date of the scheduled offense.
It emphasized that engaging in processes related to the proceeds of crime determines the offense’s commission, regardless of the scheduled offense’s date.
The court rejected the appellant’s argument that his implication was solely based on witness statements recorded under Section 50 of the PMLA.
Citing the precedent in the Rohit Tandon v. Directorate of Enforcement case, the court affirmed the admissibility of statements under Section 50. The substantial material collected, including witness statements, demonstrated the appellant’s active involvement in processes linked to the proceeds of crime.
The court reiterated the mandatory adherence to Section 45 conditions, even in the context of a bail application under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C).
It stressed the court’s responsibility to consider the nature of the accusation, evidence, severity of prescribed punishment, character of the accused, and other relevant factors while weighing a bail application.
Quoting Section 436A of the Cr.P.C as a beneficial provision for ensuring the right to a speedy trial, the court dismissed the appellant’s claim of indefinite incarceration, emphasizing the court’s discretion in granting relief under this provision.
The court ultimately dismissed the appeal, highlighting the appellant’s failure to meet the stipulations in Section 45 and noting the sufficient material demonstrating his involvement in the alleged offense.
Case Title: Tarun Kumar v. Assistant Director Directorate of Enforcement