Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on plea challenging Sections 50, 63 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act

Petitioner wants them to be declared unconstitutional

Updated - March 29, 2023 02:19 am IST

Published - March 28, 2023 08:21 pm IST - NEW DELHI

 Supreme Court of India. File.

Supreme Court of India. File. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on March 28 asked the government to respond to a petition filed by Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Govind Singh seeking to declare Sections 50 and 63 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 as unconstitutional.

Section 50 empowers the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to summon an accused and record a statement. The statement is admissible as evidence in court.

Appearing before a Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for Mr. Singh, challenged the ED summons to his client and said Section 50 violated the fundamental right against self-incrimination. The proceedings under Section 50 should only be considered as part of investigation. Safeguards under the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Constitution should be made available to the accused.

The Bench listed the case after six weeks.

“Primarily the challenge is based upon the premise that the provisions of the PMLA allowing an officer of the Directorate of Enforcement to summon any person to record his statement under Section 50 of the act and requiring that person to speak truth in such statements is violative of Article 20(3) and 21 of the Constitution,” the plea filed through advocate Sumeer Sodhi said.

The plea contended that the petitioner was conscious of the top court judgment in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary versus Union of India, which upheld the amendments to the PMLA giving wide powers of arrest and summons to the ED.

“However, the petitioner being an informed citizen of this country has certain grounds to urge as to why the said judgment in Vijay Madanlal (supra) deserves to be held as per incuriam and the issues raised in the present petition deserve to be settled by a larger constitutional bench in terms of Article 145(3) of the Constitution,” the plea added.

“The petitioner has not been supplied with a copy of the ECIR, nor have any details of the same been provided to the petitioner, therefore, the petitioner herein is completely unaware of the scope of investigation, or the allegations being investigated in relation to which the Petitioner is being called upon by the Respondent No.2 (ED),” the petition said.

The petition comes in the wake of 14 Opposition parties moving the Supreme Court against the indiscriminate arrests, raids and summons of their leaders by the ED and the CBI.

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