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Punjab and Haryana High Court Upholds ED's Arrest of AAP MLA, Dismisses Plea Challenging Detention [Read Order]

By Saket Sourav      28 May, 2024 11:56 AM      0 Comments
Punjab and Haryana High Court Upholds EDs Arrest of AAP MLA Dismisses Plea Challenging Detention

Punjab: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently dismissed a plea filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab MLA Jaswant Singh, challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The court found that the petitioner’s arrest was in consonance with Section 19(1) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and did not find any manifest illegality in the remand orders or the subsequent proceedings.

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“It is, thus, manifest that the order of remand, which runs into six pages, has been passed with the application of mind and not mechanically or in a routine manner,” the court said.

The court further held that the provisions of Section 19(1) of the PMLA must be mandatorily complied with before arresting the accused.

FACTS:

The petitioner, Jaswant Singh, an elected member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, challenged his arrest and subsequent proceedings under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He was accused of diverting loans obtained by M/s Tara Corporation Limited (TCL), where he was a Director and Guarantor, to other companies and his personal account.

An FIR was registered against him, alleging offenses under the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act. Subsequently, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) recorded an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) against him. The ED issued multiple summonses to Jaswant Singh to join the investigation, but he did not appear, citing reasons like being in Canada and medical issues.

On 06.11.2023, ED officials went to Jaswant Singh's office premises to serve the summons, and he was officially arrested at 04:25 p.m. on 06.11.2023 at Jalandhar on the grounds of his involvement in money laundering activities and non-compliance with summonses.

ARGUMENTS:

The counsel for the petitioner argued that the arrest was in contravention of Section 19(1) of PMLA due to non-compliance by the Investigating Officer. They further argued that the grounds did not indicate reasons for guilt except non-compliance with summonses. It was also argued that the summons dated 06.11.2023 was an afterthought and never served, even though the petitioner was willing to cooperate. Additionally, it was argued that the 'material in possession' should have been immediately sent to the Adjudicating Authority as per Section 19(2) of PMLA.

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Conversely, the counsels appearing for the respondents submitted that mandatory provisions of Section 19(1) of PMLA were complied with while effecting the arrest. They further submitted that written grounds were duly furnished and acknowledged by the petitioner. Additionally, it was submitted that a substantial amount of money was involved, and the petitioner, who was repeatedly asked to join the investigation, went abroad instead of joining the investigation. Further, he did not inform about his arrival from Canada and was found addressing public meetings. Therefore, it was submitted that, in view of non-cooperation, hiding his arrival, and refusal to give a statement, the arrest was effected as per Section 19 of PMLA.

DECISION:

The court, after hearing both parties and relying upon the judgments of the Supreme Court in the cases of Pankaj Bansal v. Union of India, Ram Kishor Arora v. Directorate of Enforcement, Vijay Madanlal Choudhary v. Union of India, and other relevant precedents, held that the arrest of the petitioner Jaswant Singh was in consonance with Section 19(1) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Additionally, the court found no manifest illegality in the orders of remand and subsequent proceedings. It also rejected the contention that the Special Court did not express satisfaction with regard to the compliance of Section 19(1) of the PMLA and held that it is the duty of the Special Court, when the accused is produced before it in compliance with Section 19(3) of the PMLA, to satisfy itself regarding the compliance of Section 19(1) of the PMLA and whether the arrest has been made after following the procedure laid therein.

In conclusion, the court held that the arrest of the petitioner was in consonance with Section 19(1) of the PMLA, and resultantly, the petition was dismissed.

[Read Order]



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