Saumya Chaurasia vs Directorate of Enforcement 2023 INSC 1073 – S 45 PMLA – Bail

Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 ; Section 45 First Proviso -The use of the expression “may be” in the first proviso to Section 45 clearly indicates that the benefit of the said proviso to the category of persons mentioned therein may be extended at the discretion of the Court considering the facts and circumstances of each case, and could not be construed as a mandatory or obligatory on the part of the Court to release them – The courts also should not be oblivious to the fact that nowadays the educated and well placed women in the society engage themselves in the commercial ventures and enterprises, and advertently or inadvertently engage themselves in the illegal activities – The courts should exercise the discretion judiciously using their prudence, while granting the benefit of the first proviso to Section 45 PMLA to the category of persons mentioned therein. The extent of involvement of the persons falling in such category in the alleged offences, the nature of evidence collected by the investigating agency etc., would be material considerations. (Para 24)

Practice and Procedure – The Certificate to be issued by the Advocate-on-Record and the Affidavit to be filed by or on behalf of the petitioner/appellant at the end of the SLP as per the provisions contained in the Supreme Court Rules, do carry sanctity in the eyes of law – Every party approaching the court seeking justice is expected to make full and correct disclosure of material facts and that every advocate being an officer of the court, though appearing for a particular party, is expected to assist the court fairly in carrying out its function to administer the justice- A very high standard of professionalism and legal acumen is expected from the advocates particularly designated Senior advocates appearing in the highest court of the country so that their professionalism may be followed and emulated by the advocates practicing in the High Courts and the District Courts. Though it is true that the advocates would settle the pleadings and argue in the courts on instructions given by their clients, however their duty to diligently verify the facts from the record of the case, using their legal acumen for which they are engaged, cannot be obliviated. (Para 13-14)

Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 ; Section 3- It is only in the event the person named in the criminal activity relating to a scheduled offence is finally absolved by a Court of competent jurisdiction owing to an order of discharge, acquittal or because of quashing of the criminal case 24 (scheduled offence) against him/ her, there can be no action for money laundering against such a person or person claiming through him in relation to the property linked to the stated scheduled offence- when the FIR is registered under particular offences which include the offences mentioned in the Schedule to the PMLA, it is the court of competent jurisdiction, which would decide whether the Charge is required to be framed against the accused for the scheduled offence or not. (Para 28)

Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 ; Section 45 the underlying principles and rigours of Section 45 of the Act must come into play and without exception ought to be reckoned to uphold the objectives of the Act, which is a special legislation providing for stringent regulatory measures for combating the menace of money laundering – Court while considering an application seeking bail is not required to weigh the evidence collected by the investigating agency meticulously, nonetheless the Court should keep in mind the nature of accusation, the nature of evidence collected in support thereof, the severity of the punishment prescribed for the alleged offences, the character of the accused, the circumstances which are peculiar to the accused, reasonable possibility of securing the presence of the accused at the time of trial, reasonable apprehension of the witness being tempered with, the large interest of the public/ state etc. Though the findings recorded by the Court while granting or refusing to grant bail would be tentative in nature, nonetheless the Court is expected to express prima facie opinion while granting or refusing to grant bail which would demonstrate an application of mind, particularly dealing with the serious economic 17 offences. (Para 18-19)

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