The Supreme Court’s July 27 verdict upholding the constitutional validity of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) and the powers granted to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under several provisions therein has come in for some harsh criticism from several Opposition parties.
In a joint statement issued by 17 Opposition parties on Wednesday, the bloc placed on record its “deep apprehension” on the long-term implications of the Supreme Court judgment. “We place on record our deep apprehension on the long-term implications of the Supreme Court judgment upholding, in entirety, the amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, without examining whether some of these amendments could have been enacted by way of Finance Act,” the statement reads.
“If tomorrow the Supreme Court holds that the challenged amendments through Finance Act is bad in law, then the entire exercise would become futile and loss of judicial time,” it adds, calling for a review of the order.
The statement, issued by opposition parties, including the Trinamool Congress, the Congress, DMK, Aam Aadmi Party, TRS, Samajwadi Party, CPI(M), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Shiv Sena, among others, further points out that the judgment should have waited for the verdict of a larger bench to examine the constitutionality of the Finance Act route to carry out amendments.
“We hold, and will always hold, our Supreme Court in the highest respect. Yet, we are compelled to point out that the judgment should have awaited the verdict of a larger bench for examining the constitutionality of the Finance Act route to carry out amendments,” it adds.
The Opposition parties further said that the far-reaching amendments brought by the Centre had strengthened the hands of the government to target its political opponents.
“We are also very disappointed that the highest judicial authority, invited to give an independent verdict on the lack of checks and balances in the Act, has virtually reproduced arguments given by the executive in support of the draconian amendments,” they said.
“We hope that the dangerous verdict will be short-lived and constitutional provisions will prevail soon,” they added.
The SC’s verdict last Wednesday left out the challenge to the amendments brought about to the PMLA by way of the Finance Act, hence bypassing Rajya Sabha scrutiny. A three-judge bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar, which was hearing a batch of 241 petitions challenging the validity of several provisions of the PMLA, said that it is not looking into this aspect of the case as the issue is pending before a larger bench and is open to interpretations after the decision.