ED Must Furnish Grounds Of Arrest To Accused In Writing : Supreme Court Dismisses Union's Review Against 'Pankaj Bansal' Judgment

Gyanvi Khanna

22 March 2024 10:06 AM GMT

  • ED Must Furnish Grounds Of Arrest To Accused In Writing : Supreme Court Dismisses Unions Review Against Pankaj Bansal Judgment

    The Supreme Court dismissed the Union's petition seeking review of Pankaj Bansal v. Union of India, in which it held that the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) must furnish the accused with the reasons for arrest in writing. The Bench of Justices AS Bopanna and PV Sanjay Kumar dismissed the review petition, stating that the decision does not contain any error that warrants...

    The Supreme Court dismissed the Union's petition seeking review of Pankaj Bansal v. Union of India, in which it held that the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) must furnish the accused with the reasons for arrest in writing.

    The Bench of Justices AS Bopanna and PV Sanjay Kumar dismissed the review petition, stating that the decision does not contain any error that warrants reconsideration.

    “We have carefully gone through the review petitions and the connected papers. W much less apparent, in the order impugned, warranting its reconsideration.”

    This Division Bench rendered its verdict in this case last October. While doing so, the Court also set aside the arrest of Pankaj Bansal and Basant Bansal in the money laundering case against the real estate group M3M.

    The Court reasoned that Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which gives the power to officers of ED to arrest any person guilty of a money laundering offence, uses the expression that the accused shall be 'informed of the grounds of such arrest'. Pertinently, the Section does not specify how the grounds of arrest should be informed. Moreover, this aspect was also not dealt with in the recent Vijay Madanlal Choudhary and Senthil Balaji cases.

    The Court came down heavily on the central agency for its approach taken in the instant case by which the grounds of arrest were not furnished to the accused in written form. Noticing that the ED officer merely read out the grounds of arrest, the Court held that such a conduct will not fulfil the mandate of Article 22(1) of the Constitution and Section 19(1) of the Act.

    Article 22(1) of the Constitution provides that no person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest.

    Regarding this, the judgment firmly held: "This being the fundamental right guaranteed to the arrested person, the mode of conveying information of the grounds of arrest must necessarily be meaningful so as to serve the intended purpose."

    Declaring the arrest to be illegal, the bench ordered the immediate release of the accused. Criticising the ED's approach in the instant case, the bench observed, "This chronology of events speaks volumes and reflects rather poorly, if not negatively, on the ED's style of functioning".

    Soon after the judgment was pronounced, the Centre had filed a review petition against it.

    In this regard, one may also note that the Supreme Court in December, 2023 had the Judgment in Pankaj Bansal's case does not apply retrospectively.

    A bench comprising Justices Bela M Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma held that non-furnishing grounds of arrest till the date of pronouncement in Pankaj Bansal (October 3, 2023) cannot be considered illegal. Following this, in February this year, the same bench also dismissed the petition seeking review of this judgment.

    Case Title: Union of India v. Pankaj Bansal., DIARY NO. 50448 OF 2023

    Click here to read the order



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