No case concluded under PMLA so far, court says while allowing release of two accused

A special court in a recent order said that not a single case under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act (PMLA) has concluded and allowed the release of two accused on bond, in a case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) observing that there was ‘no hope’ for early disposal of the case.

“It is a fact that since the beginning, not a single case under PMLA has been disposed of by judgment. Trial of PMLA case is basically double trial. Because while trying PMLA case, the case relating to the scheduled offence has to be tried simultaneously. Therefore, in future there is no hope that this case will be disposed of finally on merit as early as possible,” special judge M G Deshpande said in his order.Pramod Dave and Dinesh Bangar were booked in a case by the ED last year. The two were not arrested by the agency during the investigation. The ED named them as accused in the charge sheet. Following this, the court issued summons to all accused. The ED submitted to the court that they should be sent to jail as they were held in economic offences which are serious. The two, through their lawyer Niranjan Mundargi, told the court that since they were not arrested by the ED so far, and a charge sheet has already been filed against them, they should not be sent to jail but released on bonds, undertaking to remain present during the trial. The lawyer also submitted that ordering them to be sent to jail is not required at this stage. He also submitted that the trial in the case is not likely to commence anytime soon. The court agreed with this contention stating that sending them to jail at this stage would cause injustice to them.“In that event there is likelihood of his detention for an endless period considering the compass of the trial of PMLA case along with the case relating to the scheduled offence,” the court said. In cases under the PMLA, the ED can only begin probe after an offence is filed by another agency. Based on another agency’s complaint, the ED begins probe into the proceeds of a crime being laundered. It then files a separate offence under PMLA to primarily probe money-laundering. The court said that the accused not being arrested during the probe by the ED showed that the agency does not apprehend them absconding or there was no report of them having tampered with the probe or evidence. It said that the accused had followed the directions of the court and responded to summons too. It said that if the ED found involvement of the accused in such a serious offence, it would have arrested them, which was not done.

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