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Bombay High Court Restrains PMLA Adjudicating Authority From Passing Orders On Attachment Of Anil Deshmukh's Assets

Sharmeen Hakim
6 Dec 2021 3:47 PM GMT
Bombay High Court Restrains PMLA Adjudicating Authority From Passing Orders On Attachment Of Anil Deshmukhs Assets
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The Bombay High Court on Monday restrained the Adjudicating Authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act from passing orders on the provisional attachment of assets of former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, till January 14. A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Madhav Jamdar heard Anil Deshmukh's wife – Aarti's petition challenging the provisional...

The Bombay High Court on Monday restrained the Adjudicating Authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act from passing orders on the provisional attachment of assets of former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, till January 14.

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Madhav Jamdar heard Anil Deshmukh's wife – Aarti's petition challenging the provisional attachment of the family's assets worth Rs. 4.2 crores by the Enforcement Directorate as well as the proceedings before the Adjudicating Authority to confirm the attachment.

Aarti Anil Deshmukh, in her prayers, sought direction to ED to constitute adjudicating authority strictly as per the PMLA and sought the current authority having a single member to be restrained from conducting any further proceedings. The plea also sought to strike down the second proviso of section 5 of the PMLA, arguing that same provides "unguided and arbitrary powers to the authority to provisionally attach any property without any report having forwarded to magistrate or a complaint being filed pertaining to the scheduled offence for the purpose of getting finality to such provisional attachment."

The court said that the proceedings before the Authority can continue but no order may be passed as it intended to dispose of the wife's plea at the admission stage. The matter is posted for hearing on January 10, 2022.

Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhri along with Advocate Inderpal Singh mentioned the matter before Justice Patel on Monday.

Chaudhri submitted that the primary challenge in the plea was to the constitution of the Adjudicating Authority.

He said that while the Adjudicating Authority must consist of one chairperson and two members, and that one member each shall have experience in the field of law, administration, finance or accountancy, at present the AA consists of only the chairperson who doesn't have experience in law.

The plea therefore seeks for the Centre to constitute the AA strictly in terms of section 6 of the PMLA.

Chaudhri sought for an urgent hearing stating that the AA is likely to pass final orders on the attachment on December 9, 2021. He clarified that he was not seeking for the proceedings to be stalled, just that orders may not be passed.

The court then observed that serious questions regarding the appropriateness of the authority were raised passed the restraining order.

The attached assets include one residential flat valued at Rs 1.54 crore, located at Worli in Mumbai, and 25 land parcels of book value Rs 2.67 crore, located at Dhutum village in Uran, Raigad.

Background

The ED's case is based on the CBI's corruption FIR against Deshmukh wherein Ex-Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh alleged that Deshmukh had asked dismissed cop Sachin Waze and two other officers to illegally collect Rs 100 crore from bar owners every month for him.

According to the ED probe, as Maharashtra's home minister, Deshmukh had received atleast Rs 4.7 crore in illegal gratification in cash from various orchestra bar owners between December 2020 and February 2021 through dismissed cop Sachin Waze.


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