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Probes, trials stalled by appeals set to pick up pace after SC’s PMLA ruling | India News

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Probes against Mehbooba Mufti and P Chidambaram are expected to gather pace after the SC ruling

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court order upholding the constitutional validity of the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) will provide for speedier trial of some high-profile money laundering accused that includes Congress Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram, his father P Chidambaram, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, industrialist Shivinder Mohan Singh besides fast tracking investigation in other politically sensitive ones.
The investigation and trial in many of these cases had almost come to a halt with the agency waiting for the outcome of the Supreme Court verdict challenging many of its provisions, dealing with its powers to arrest, search and seizure and sharing the copy of its Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) with the accused.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court set aside all these arguments and validated the constitutional powers of the Enforcement Directorate under the PMLA not to provide a copy of the ECIR. Some of the accused had even sought exemption from filing an affidavit, a crucial document during the process of investigation and recording of statements of the accused.
Prabir Purkayastha, founder of news portal NewsClick that is facing money laundering charges, had obtained a ‘no coercive’ order from the Delhi high court after challenging the decision of the agency not to share its ECIR, equivalent to a police FIR, giving reasons for search and seizure and power of summoning.
The apex court held that the director of ED has the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, in respect of “discovery and inspection; enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath; compelling the production of records; receiving evidence on affidavits; issuing commissions for examination of witnesses and documents.”
The ED had filed multiple chargesheets against Karti Chidambaram and his father P Chidambaram in 2G spectrum allocation and the INX-Media cases. The alleged money trail established by the agency is part of prosecution complaint filed before the courts which had taken cognisance of the charges and ordered for trial.
However, appeals were filed in higher courts by the accused to stall the process of trial, said ED sources, which have been pending for over two years in some cases.
“Supply of a copy of ECIR in every case to the person concerned is not mandatory, it is enough if ED at the time of arrest, discloses the grounds of such arrest. However, when the arrested person is produced before the special court, it is open to the court to look into the relevant records presented by the authorised representative of ED for answering the issue of need for his/her continued detention in connection with the offence of money-laundering,” the SC said in its verdict.

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