‘ED Can’t Arrest Accused After Special Court has Taken Cognizance of PMLA Complaint’: SC

Enforcement Directorate

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) cannot arrest an accused under Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) once a special court has taken cognizance of the complaint of money laundering.

Court’s Observation

A bench comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan stated that when an accused responds to a summons before a court, the agency must seek custody from the relevant court.

“If the accused appears before the special court via summons issued by the court, it cannot be construed as being in custody,” they remarked. “An accused who presents themselves before the court following a summons is not obligated to apply for bail, thus the twin conditions of Section 45 of PMLA do not apply,” the bench added in its ruling.

These twin conditions stipulate that in a money laundering case, when an accused seeks bail, the court must initially allow the public prosecutor to be heard, and only then, if satisfied that the accused is not guilty and unlikely to commit a similar offence upon release, can bail be granted.

Twin Test

The Supreme Court’s judgment addressed the query of whether an accused in a money laundering case must satisfy the stringent twin test for bail, even when the special court has taken cognizance of the offence.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte