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17 Aug 2022

Our auspicious days
August 27, Sunday: Darbha Mavas
August 31, Wednesday: Vinayak Chachurthi.
September 1, Thursday: Pann mahurat, Varah Panchami.
September 2, Friday: Martand Teerth Yatra, Pann mahurat.
September 8, Thursday: Vitasta Triyodashis.
September 16, Friday: Sahiba Saptami.

Our Bright Stars
Kubeer Batra, son of Smt. Durgesh Nandan and Sh. Kashish Batra, student of Modern Vidya Niketan Sr. Sec SCH, Sec-17, FBD, Hry, has passed Class XII examination of S.B.S.E. with 94.5 percent marks. He has secured A1 grade in 6 subjects. 
Shivam Mattoo, son of Smt. Sarita and Sh. Vinod Mattoo, student of Kendriya Vidyala, Ambika Vihar, Paschim Vihar, New Delhi, has passed Class XII examination of the C.B.S.E. with 93 percent marks. He has secured A1 grade in 6 subjects.
Mani Mattoo, son of Smt. Sarita and Sh.. Vinod Mattoo, student of Kendriya Vidyala, Ambika, Vihar, Pascim Vihar, New Delhi, has passed Class X examination of C.B.S.E. with 86 percent marks.
Issuance of Domicile Certificates
Relief Commissioner’s Office Functioned Devotedly
Registration of displaced persons for the purpose of issuance of Domicile Certificate in terms of the Government Order No. 52-JK(DMRRR) of 2020 dated 16.05.2020 from 04.07.2022 onwards.
As per last years practice-2021, Shri Sumeer Chrungoo, Presdident, Kashmiri Samiti Delhi (Regd.) requested the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) Jammu Shri A.K. Pandita for issuance of Domicile Certificates in the current year 2022 for the persons living in NCT of Delhi and NCR. Accordingly the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) Jammu, deputed his Deputy Commissioner (Migrants) Jammu, Shri Devender Singh Bhav, Smt. Namrata Bhan (Tehsildar) and Madam Mehak Gupta (Accounts Officer) to Delhi alongwith some Officials to discharge the duties with regard to preparation of Domicile Certificates at the Base Camps at Kashmir Bhawan, Lajpat Nagar-4, New Delhi and JK House, 5 Prithvi Raj Road, New Delhi.
Accordingly, the Officials of Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) Jammu deputed to Delhi for registration of displaced persons for the purpose of issuance of Domicile Certificates at the Base Camps at Kashmir Bhawan, Lajpat Nagar-4, New Delhi and JK House, 5-Prithvi Raj Road, New Delhi started checking up of Registration/Domicile forms of the people from NCT of Delhi and NCR from 04.07.2022 to 11.07.2022 (8 days).
At the concluding stage of Registration of displaced persons living in NCT of Delhi and NCR the Domicile Certificates prepared at both Base Camps by the entire staff of Relief and Rehabilation Commissioner (Migrants) Jammu rose to 1543 numbers.
Shri Devender Singh Bhav, Deputy Commissioner, Relief and Rehabilitation (Migrants) Jammu took keen interest in the registration of displaced persons for the purpose of issuance of Domicile Certificates and helped the needy in fillingup the Registration/Domicile forms at both Base Camps set up for the purpose.
The Deputy Commissioner (Migrants) Jammu also got along with him some Domicile Certificates duly signed by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) Jammu, Shri A.K. Pandita. The signed Domiciles Certificates got from Jammu were handed over to the concerned persons by the Deputy Commissioner (Migrants) Jammu after proper scrutinisation.
At the concluding stage of Registration of displaced persons living in NCT of Delhi / NCR the Domicile Certificates prepared by the entire team members deputed by the Commissioner (Migrants) Jammu closed on 11.07.2022 at both Base Camps which numbered 1563 were systamatically arranged accordingly and put in proper bundles duly sealed by the Deputy Commissioners Staff who all left for Jammu the same day 11.07.2022 with all the documents along with all the bundles containing Domicile Certificatyes to be signed by newly appointed Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) Shri K.K. Sidha at his office at Canal Road, Jammu.
It may be mentioned here that after the signing of above mentioned Domicile Certificates at Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Jammu) office the same shall be sent to Resident Commissioner, JK House, 5-Prithvi Raj Road, New Delhi Office where from the Domicile Certificates can be collected by the concerned persons after proper verification by the Resident Commissioner’s Office, 5-Prithvi Raj Road, New Delhi.
Inputs: T.N. Gurtoo, Secretary, KSD.

Linguistic, religious minority status to be decided state-wise: SC
Amit Anand Choudhary
The Supreme Courton, on July 18 last, said it was a settled position that religious and linguistic minority status of a community is to be decided state-wise on the basis of state population and it would be a travesty of justice if, say, Christians who are in a majority in Mizoram and Nagaland are given minority status or Sikhs treated as a minority community in Punjab.
Hearing a PIL seeking directions to declare Hindus as minority community in states where it is outnumbered by other communities, a bench of Justices U U Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia said any such community could be a religious or linguistic minority community. It said Marathi-speaking people would be a minority community outside Maharashtra; Kannada-speaking persons in Maharashtra are a minority.
The petitioner said Hindus are minorities in J&K, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal, Lakshadweep, Manipur and Punjab but the Centre has so far declared only Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains as minorities in the country.
The Supreme Court said it could not examine the issue of minority status for Hindus in some states “in air” and asked the petitioner to give concrete examples that Hindus were denied benefits of minority status in states where their population is less than those of other communities.
The petitioner referred to some states where the population of Hindus is less than those of other communities and pleaded that they be treated as minority community under Articles 29-30 to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Hindus constitute 1% of the population in Ladakh, 2.8% in Mizoram, 2.8% in Lakshadweep, 4% in Kashmir, 8.7% in Nagaland, 11.5% in Meghalaya, 29% in Arunachal Pradesh, 38.5% in Punjab and 41.3% in Manipur.
At the outset of the hearing, the bench of Justices U U Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia pointed out whether some notification was needed to be issued by the government to give minority tag to a community. The bench also gave the example of DAV running educational institutes across the country but said all its institutions would not get minority tag and it had to be decided state-wise and referred to SC’s verdict in TMA Pai case in 2002.
“A Sikh institution in Punjab getting minority status is a travesty of justice. Christians who are in majority in Nagaland and Mizoram can’t be said to be minority in those states,” the bench observed while emphasising that the exercise for deciding minority status has to be decided state-wise and not nationally. Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for the petitioner, sought two weeks’ time to come out with examples where Hindus were denied benefits of minority status.
Courtesy: Times of India, July 19, 2022

Rubaiya Sayeed identifies Yasin Malik, 
Three others as her abductors
This is the first time Rubaiya Sayeed has been asked to appear in the case. She had been freed after five terrorists were released in exchange.
By Ravi Krishnan Khajuria, Jammu
Three decades after her high-profile abduction and release, Rubaiya Sayeed, 56, daughter of former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, on July 15, identified four of her kidnappers, including Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder Yasin Malikbefore a TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act) court.
Rubaiya was kidnapped in December, 1989, by Malik and his aides. Her father was the Union home minister at the time in the VP Singh-led National Front government. The court has fixed August 23 as the next date of hearing in the much-publicised case.
Rubaiya, who now lives in Chennai, appeared personally after the TADA court issued summons seeking her physical appearance in the case.
Special public prosecutor in TADA court advocate Monika Kohli said, “Identifying Yasin Malik and three others by Rubaiya Sayeed in her kidnapping case is a big development and a big achievement for us. She stood by her statement whatever she had deposed before the CBI. She has identified everybody.”
“She was shown the photographs today and she identified them. This is a step forward for the prosecution of Yasin and other accused in the case,” she added.
Malik, presently undergoing life sentence in Tihar jail in a terror-funding case, moved an application to the government of India seeking personal appearance of witnesses in two cases — the Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping and the killing of four Indian Air Force officials, including squadron leader Ravi Khanna.
The TADA court in Jammu had on May 27 issued summons to Rubaiya to appear in person in connection with her abduction case.
Rubaiya, who is the sister of PDP chief and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, landed in Jammu on July 14 evening. She is listed as a prosecution witness by the CBI which took over the investigation of the case in early 1990.
She was kidnapped on December 8, 1989, and was released on December 13.
Her abductors had sought the release of five arrested militants in exchange of her release and the Union government conceded to their demand.
On January 11, 2021, the TADA court had ordered that the charges be framed against Yasin and nine others, including Ali Mohamad Mir, Mohammad Zaman Mir, Iqbal Ahmad Gandroo, Javed Ahmad Mir, Mohammad Rafiq Pahloo alias Nana Ji alias Saleem, Manzoor Ahmed Sofi, Wajahat Bashir, Mehraj-ud-Din Sheikh and Showkat Ahmad Bakshi.
The TADA court had in March 2020 also framed charges against Yasin and six others allegedly involved in the killing of four unarmed IAF personnel in 1990 in Kashmir.
Explaination: On December 8, 1989, Rubaiya was abducted from a mini-bus in Srinagar, when she was returning home from the Lal Ded Memorial Hospital where she was a medical intern.
She identified Yasin Malik and three others as her abductors in the
Malik is currently undergoing a life sentence at Delhi’s Tihar jail after being convicted in a terror funding case in May.
The abduction: Just six days before the incident, her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had been sworn-in as the Union Home Minister in the V.P. Singh government.
The bus, in which Rubaiya was travelling, was intercepted by four armed men, a few hundred meters from Mufti’s residence at Nowgam on the outskirts of Srinagar city.
She was shifted to a car and whisked away to an undisclosed location. Hours later, the JKLF – then headed by Ishfaq Majeed Wani – claimed responsibility for the abduction in a call to a local newspaper.
Rubaiya, then 23, had been abducted by the militants to seek the release of five JKLF militants from the prison — Abdul Hameed Sheikh (Wani’s deputy), Ghulam Nabi Bhat (brother of JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat), Noor Mohammad Kalwal, Mohammad Altaf and Javed Ahmad Zargar.
Talks for release: In the wake of the abduction, then J&K CM Farooq Abdullah rushed back after cutting short his London visit. Meantime, senior official from the Centre, including the then IB chief, were sent to Srinagar to start negotiations with the JKLF through a local journalist.
Five days after the abduction, on December 13, 1989, two Union ministers in the Janata Dal government — Inder Kumar Gujral and Arif Mohammad Khan – were also sent to the Valley.
Finally, a deal was struck and five JKLF militants were freed. A few hours later, Rubaiya too was released after spending five days in captivity.
Political tussle: Reports at that time attributed the delay in Rubaiya’s release to Farooq Abdullah’s reluctance to release the jailed militants. A decade later, Abdullah confirmed that he was against the swap, adding that the Centre had even threatened to sack him.
“A senior minister in V P Singh Cabinet specially flew to Srinagar with the threat. I didn’t deter from my stand and refused to release any militant… Mufti Sayeed, however, ensured that the militants were released which hastened my resignation from the office of Chief Minister,” Abdullah said on February 14, 2000.
Thirty-seven days after Rubaiya’s release, Abdullah resigned as CM soon after Jagmohan was appointed as J&K Governor. Abdullah saw Mufti’s hand in the new appointment to the Governor’s office.
The aftermath: The release of five JKLF men from jail was seen as a watershed moment in Kashmir’s militancy.
The massive victory procession in old Srinagar city to celebrate the release of JKLF militants was for the first time local people were seen expressing support for militancy.
The abduction and its successful outcome for militants triggered a series of kidnappings.
Those abducted in the aftermath included the Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University Professor Mashir-ul-Haq, his personal secretary Abdul Gani and General Manager of Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) H L Khera. However, all three were killed by their abductors as the government turned down their demands for release of militants. Indian Oil Executive Director K Doraiswamy was also among those abducted, but was set free after nearly two months in a swap involving nine militants.
The present case: A case regarding Rubaiya Sayeed’s abduction was first registered at Srinagar’s Sadar Police station on December 8, 1989 under Section 364 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), Section 3 of TADA and Section 3/25 of the Arms Act. The CBI took over the investigation in the early 1990s.
In January last year, the court had framed charges against 10, including Malik, in the abduction case.
Besides the four — Malik, Zaman Mir, Mehraj-ud-Din Sheikh and Manzoor Ahmed Sofi — identified by Rubaiya on Friday, the others are: Ali Mohammad Mir, Iqbal Ahmad Gandroo, Javed Ahmad Mir alias Nalka, Mohammad Rafiq Pahloo alias Nana Ji alias Saleem, Wajahat Bashir and Showkat Ahmad Bakshi.
Courtesy: Excelsior, Jammu, July 16, 2022 

India emerges as top lender to Sri Lanka
In first four months of 2022
By HT Correspondent
India emerged as the top lender to Sri Lanka during the first four months of this year, extending credit worth $376.9 million, compared to $67.9 million from China, as the island nation grapples with its worst economic crisis.
A shortage of foreign exchange has left Sri Lanka struggling to pay for imports of food, medicine and energy for its population of 22 million people. Last month, the country defaulted on foreign debt and inflation has increased by about 50%. The situation triggered massive protests that led to the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
India topped the list of lenders, according to data on disbursement of funds in the four months through April 30 cited by the newspaper Daily Mirror. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was the second largest lender in this period, with $359.6 million, followed by the World Bank with $67.3 million.
The amount loaned by China was described by the newspaper as “paltry”, and the report said India came to the rescue when Sri Lanka started experiencing an acute shortage of foreign currency at the beginning of this year.
In the first four months of 2022, Sri Lanka received foreign loans worth $968.1 million and $0.7 million in grants.
India’s full package of foreign assistance for Sri Lanka since the beginning of 2022, including lines of credit for emergency purchases of fuel, food and medicines, deferral of payments to the Asian Clearing Union and a currency swap, is worth $3.8 billion.
“India emerged as the first responder under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s neighbourhood first policy when Sri Lanka was ditched by all other bilateral partners for funding support to ride out the dollar crunch which became more pronounced since the beginning of the year due to a confluence of external and internal factors,” the report said.
A $500-million short-term line of credit for fuel purchases was agreed on February 2 for a period of two years, with a grace period of one year. Another $1-billion line of credit was finalised on March 17 for importing essential commodities.
“Despite wide expectations, China’s unwillingness or the reluctance to come to the rescue of Sri Lanka when it needed the most raised many eyebrows,” the report added. China also has not unlocked its $1.5-billion equivalent yuan-denominated swap line with Sri Lanka’s Central Bank for use.
Sri Lanka’s ambassador to China, Palitha Kohona, told Bloomberg that a request for up to $4 billion in aid could come through at some point. China was Sri Lanka’s largest bilateral funding partner until recently.
Courtesy: Hindustan Times, July 19, 2022

Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis A Warning To Other Countries With High Debt: IMF Chief
IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva cited the unprecedented crisis in Sri Lanka to warn other countries that they could also face a similar situation.
Press Trust of India
International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva has cited the example of the unprecedented economic crisis in Sri Lanka to warn other countries that they could also face a similar situation in the face of high debt levels and limited policy space.
“I wish the global economic outlook was as bright as the sky in Bali, but unfortunately, it is not. The outlook has darkened significantly, and uncertainty is exceptionally high. Downside risks about which the IMF had previously warned have now materialised,” International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said at the meeting of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Indonesia.
“Countries with high debt levels and limited policy space will face additional strains. Look no further than Sri Lanka as a warning sign,” Ms Georgieva said on Saturday.
The comments from the IMF MD came as Sri Lanka is going through its toughest economic crisis and is in a hard position where it cannot pay for its essential imports, fuel, food and medicine due to an acute forex crisis.
The government declared bankruptcy in mid-April by refusing to honour its international debt.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was forced out of power last week due to his poor handling of the economy.
Ms Georgieva said that developing nations had also been experiencing sustained capital outflows for four months in a row, putting their dreams of catching up with advanced economies at risk.
While she did not directly indicate the names of any nations, the same global headwinds - rising inflation and interest rate hikes, depreciating currencies, high levels of debt and dwindling foreign currency reserves – have affected other economies in the region, the BBC reported.
Pakistan is one of the nations, which has been witnessing a shaky economy for some time now.
Fuel prices in Pakistan are up by around 90 per cent since the end of May, after the government ended fuel subsidies. It’s trying to rein in spending as it negotiates with the IMF to resume a bailout programme, the report said.
The economy is struggling with the rising cost of goods. In June, the annual inflation rate hit 21.3 per cent, the highest it has been in 13 years, the report added.
Maldives and Bangladesh are two nations which are on the verge of witnessing an economic crisis if situations are not brought under control.
The Maldives has seen its public debt swell in recent years and it’s now well above 100 per cent of its GDP.
Like Sri Lanka, the pandemic hammered the economy of the Maldives that was heavily reliant on tourism.
On the other hand, in Bangladesh Inflation has hit an 8-year high in May in Bangladesh, touching 7.42 per cent, the report said.
Courtesy: Times of India, July 19, 2022

Samantha Power cautions against forces that “seek to sow divisions”
“Opaque” loans for “headline-grabbing” infrastructure projects, were among the factors behind the current crisis that has engulfed Sri Lanka, said Samantha Power, Administrator, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on July 28 last. Delivering a speech at the IIT-Delhi, Ms. Power praised India’s “swift” action in response to the emergency in Sri Lanka and argued that India’s strength especially in the field of tackling food security threats, was nurtured over the past seven decades in partnership with the United States.
Ms. Power cited the Upanishads and urged India to play a greater role in the world in tackling hunger and poverty, which have intensified in the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis. She made a strong pitch in favour of “pluralism and tolerance” saying there are “forces in the United States and India who seek to sow divisions, who seek to pitch ethnicities and religions against each other”.
“Indeed, over the past two decades, China became one of Sri Lanka’s biggest creditors, offering often opaque loan deals at higher interest rates than other lenders, and financing a raft of headline-grabbing infrastructure projects with often questionable practical use for Sri Lankans,” said Ms. Power. China, she pointed out, has not answered calls for greater relief to Sri Lanka, and said the “biggest question of all is whether Beijing will restructure debt to the same extent as other bilateral creditors”.
She said the United States extended $180 million to Sri Lanka in emergency financing in 2022 and praised India for coming to Colombo’s help, saying, “The Government of India has already supplied $16 million in humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka, it has exported 100,000 tons of organic fertilizer to try to help farmers stave off future food shortages, and it has supplied $3.5 billion in Lines of Credits to the Government of Sri Lanka as it attempts to steer its economy out of default and further collapse.”
Possible partnersip: Ms. Power painted a broad canvas of possible partnership between India and the United States based upon Cold War era instances of American support to Delhi, leading up to the launch of the Green Revolution. Ms. Power said India had proved itself capable of helping the “Global South” soon after attaining independence.
The American official met with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra, on Tuesday. She announced that the U.S. will invest $ 25 million in a new partnership with India for promoting agroforestry. “Across these past 75 years, India has always shown itself to be a friend to the world’s poor. Now, when the stakes have rarely been higher, India stands able to be an incredibly impactful development leader. ,” said Ms. Power.
Note of caution: Ms. Power sounded a note of caution about the cascading political effect that global food insecurity can have in the coming months. “Sri Lanka’s government was the first to fall. 17 countries are facing (similar) protests,” said Ms. Power.
During a brief press conference following the speech, Ms. Power said that she recognised that despite global expectations from India to help reduce food insecurity elsewhere, New Delhi will have to rise to its “sovereign responsibility” to look after food security at home first. She however, said, export restrictions are not the best way to address food security issues at home, and argued agriculture surplus countries can continue food supplies despite import restrictions for addressing “grave humanitarian emergencies” in different parts of the world.
In her speech, Ms. Power mentioned the role that private capital can play in ensuring food security. When asked about the farmers’ protest against private investment in agriculture, she argued that there is “not enough public sector financing” in countering critical collective challenges like climate change (and its fallouts like food insecurity) and said therefore “private sector has become absolutely indispensable.”
“Public-private partnership has become more catalytic. Food security resilience will come from that kind of investment, different from grand financing,” said Ms. Power. 
Courtesy: Times of India, July 29, 2022

SC order ensures that seized assets worth Rs 1 lakh crore remain with ED
The Supreme Court’s order on Wednesday upholding Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) power to seize and attach properties under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has ensured that assets worth over Rs 1 lakh crore, allegedly linked to cases being investigated by the anti-money laundering agency, will remain under its custody.
The value of assets attached by the ED until March 31, 2022, stood at over Rs 1 lakh crore. The adjudicating authority under the PMLA has upheld ED’s attachments worth Rs 60,000 crore, the possession of which will be transferred to the agency while proceedings are pending in other cases.
An unfavourable verdict, however, would have resulted in the release of the assets in question, and, more importantly, the ED would have been stripped of the power to carry out similar seizures as “proceeds of crime”. The agency has defended the power as vital for the discharge of its mandate.
According to ED, around Rs 57,000 crore of these attached assets are related to bank fraud and ponzi scam cases. Initiating the sale of some of the confiscated assets, the ED had recently auctioned properties and realised a sale worth Rs 15,000 crore. The money has been refunded to the banks which had been victims of these frauds. The SC verdict will further boost the disposal of attached assets and restrain legal challenges mounted against many of these proceedings.
Since 2005, when the PMLA came into being, the ED has registered 5,422 cases under the PMLA and has obtained 25 convictions so far. A large number of trials, particularly against politicians and industrialists, have been stalled after powers of the ED were challenged. The SC has now set aside these petitions.
In another significant observation, the SC has upheld the validity of Section 63 of the PMLA “providing for punishment regarding false information or failure to give information”. It rejected the challenge to the constitutional validity of Section 19, power of arrest, saying there are stringent safeguards provided under this rule.
The agency had made the highest attachment of properties to the tune of Rs 28,800 crore in 2019-20. Incidentally, the highest number of 981 PMLA cases were registered in 2020-21 and an average of more than 100 chargesheets have been filed every year.
Courtesy: Times of India, July 28, 2022

Supreme Court upholds powers of arrest, raids, seizure under PMLA
Krishnadas Rajagopal
Supreme Court called the PMLA a law against the “scourge of money laundering” and not a hatchet wielded against rival politicians and dissenters
The Supreme Court, on July 27, last, upheld the core amendments made to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which gives the government and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) virtually unbridled powers of summons, arrest, and raids, and makes bail nearly impossible while shifting the burden of proof of innocence on to the accused rather than the prosecution.
The apex court called the PMLA a law against the “scourge of money laundering” and not a hatchet wielded against rival politicians and dissenters.
“This is a sui generis (unique) legislation. The Parliament enacted the Act as a result of international commitment to sternly deal with the menace of money laundering of proceeds of crime having transnational consequences and on the financial systems of the countries,” a Special Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar observed in a 545-page judgment.
The verdict came on an extensive challenge raised against the amendments introduced to the 2002 Act by way of Finance Acts. The three-judge Bench said the method of introduction of the amendments through Money Bills would be separately examined by a larger Bench of the apex court.
Over 240 petitions were filed against the amendments which the challengers claimed to violate personal liberty, procedures of law and the constitutional mandate. Some of the petitioners included former Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Anil Deshmukh and Karti Chidambaram, who all claimed that the “process itself was the punishment”. The court’s stamp of approval comes at a crucial time when Congress leaders like Sonia Gandhi are being summoned by the ED and faced with several rounds of questioning spanning hours together.
“Money laundering is an offence against the sovereignty and integrity of the country,” the court noted. It gave an expansive meaning to the offence of “money laundering” to include “every process and activity”, direct or indirect, dealing with the proceeds of the crime.
“Today, if one dives deep into the financial systems, anywhere in the world, it is seen that once a financial mastermind can integrate the illegitimate money into the bloodstream of an economy, it is almost indistinguishable. In fact, the money can be simply wired abroad at one click of the mouse. It is well known that once this money leaves the country, it is almost impossible to get it back. Hence, a simplistic argument that Section 3 (offence of money laundering) should only find force once the money has been laundered, does not commend to us,” Justice Khanwilkar, who authored the judgment, underscored.
The court rejected the submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, the lead lawyer for the petitioners, that the accused are summarily summoned by the ED, and made to sign statements on the pain of threat of arrest. The process was worse than that of drug offences. The ED assumed the powers of a civil court. The process curtailed the liberty of individuals, Mr. Sibal had argued.
But the court said statements were recorded as part of an “inquiry” into the relevant facts in connection with the proceeds of crime. It cannot be equated to an investigation for prosecution. Such summons could be issued even to witnesses in the inquiry conducted by the authorised officials. “A person cannot claim protection under Article 20(3) (fundamental right against self-incrimination) of the Constitution,” Justice Khanwilkar reasoned.
The petitioners had argued that the ED could arrest a person even without informing him of the charges. This power was violative of the right to ‘due process’ enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution. Besides, Article 22 mandated that no person can be arrested without informing him or her of the grounds of the arrest, they had contended.
The court rejected the notion that the ED has been given blanket powers of arrest, search of person and property and seizure. The court said there were “in-built safeguards” within the Act, including the recording of reasons in writing while effecting arrest.
Besides, the Bench noted that the Special Court could verify using its own discretion if the accused need to be further detained or not.
The court said not showing the Enforcement Case Investigation Report (ECIR) or not supplying the accused with a copy of the document was a violation of constitutional rights.
”So long as the person has been informed about grounds of his arrest, that is sufficient compliance with the mandate of Article 22(1) of the Constitution,” Justice Khanwilkar observed.
The court justified that the ECIR was an “internal, departmental document”. Revealing its contents before the completion of inquiry or investigation into the proceeds of the crime would have a “deleterious impact” on the final outcome of the case.
The petitioners had argued that the “twin conditions” of bail under the PMLA rendered the hope of freedom non-existent for the accused. The two conditions are that there should be “reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence” and the accused “is not likely to commit any offence while on bail”.
The court replied that money laundering was no ordinary offence. It was an “aggravated form of crime the world over”.
“The offence of money laundering is no less a heinous offence than the offence of terrorism,” Justice Khanwilkar said. There is a need for “creating a deterrent effect” through a stringent law. Even a plea for anticipatory bail would have to undergo the rigours of the twin conditions under PMLA.
However, the court said undertrials could seek bail under Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure if they had already spent one half of the term of punishment in jail for the offence prescribed in law. But, again, this is not an “absolute right” and would depend from case to case.
On the issue of burden of proof resting heavily on the shoulders of the accused, Justice Khanwilkar said the provision did not suffer from the “vice of arbitrariness or unreasonableness”. “Once the issue of admissibility of materials supporting the factum of grave suspicion about the involvement of the person in the commission of crime under the 2002 Act is accepted, in law, the burden must shift on the person concerned to dispel that suspicion,” Justice Khanwilkar wrote.
The court rejected objections to the powers bestowed on the ED to attach a property as proceeds of crime. Mr. Sibal had contended that even property which were not proceeds of crime could be attached by the agency.
The court said Section 5 of the PMLA, which concerns with the provisional attachment of property, cannot be used by the agency “mechanically”.
“Authorities under the 2002 Act cannot resort to action against any person for money-laundering on an assumption that the property recovered by them must be proceeds of crime and that a scheduled offence has been committed, unless the same is registered with the jurisdictional police or pending inquiry by way of complaint before the competent forum,” Justice Khanwilkar emphasised.
The court said the provision provided a “balancing arrangement” between the interests of the accused and that of the State. Further, if the accused was eventually absolved of the crime, no further action could be taken against the attached property suspected to have been linked to the crime.
The petitioners had questioned the inclusion of several offences under the PMLA which bore no rhyme or reason to the objective of the law. They had argued that the punishments prescribed under the Act were far worse than given under the Indian Penal Code to the same offences. The court dismissed this line of argument as “flimsy and tenuous”.