24 March 2023 5:11 AM GMT
14 political parties including the Indian National Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Shiv Sena have moved the Supreme Court against alleged arbitrary use of central investigating agencies Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation in arresting opposition leaders.The matter was mentioned today before CJI DY Chandrachud by Senior Advocate AM Singhvi. The political parties seek...
14 political parties including the Indian National Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Shiv Sena have moved the Supreme Court against alleged arbitrary use of central investigating agencies Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation in arresting opposition leaders.
The matter was mentioned today before CJI DY Chandrachud by Senior Advocate AM Singhvi. The political parties seek laying down of guidelines for law enforcing agencies and courts on arrest, remand and bail.
"A clear trend of using ED raids as a tool of harassment...95% of cases are of opposition leaders. We're asking for pre arrest guidelines and post arrest guidelines," he submitted.
The CJI has agreed to hear the matter on April 5.
Other parties that have approached the Top Court include DMK, RJD, Bharat Rashtra Samithi, AITC, NCP, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, JD(U), CPI(M), Communist Party of India, Samajwadi Party, J&K National Conference.
The plea mentioned that only 23 convictions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (“PMLA”) have been secured as of now, even as the number of cases registered by the ED under the PMLA have risen exponentially (from 209 in 2013-14 F.Y. to 981 in 2020-21, and 1,180 in 2021-22).
"Between 2004-14, of the 72 political leaders investigated by the CBI, 43 (under 60%) were from the Opposition of the time. Now, this same figure has risen to over 95%. The same pattern is reflected in ED’s investigations as well, with the proportion of Opposition leaders from the total number of politicians investigated rising from 54% (before 2014) to 95% (after 2014)," the plea added.
As for arrest and remand, the parties seek that the "triple test" ( of flight risk, reasonable apprehension of tampering evidence, influencing/intimidation of witnesses) be used by investigating agencies and courts alike for arrest of persons in any cognizable offences except those involving serious bodily violence.
If these conditions are not satisfied, alternatives like interrogation at fixed hours or at most house arrest be used to meet the demands of investigation, it is pleaded.
As for bail, the parties seek that the principle of ‘bail as rule, jail as exception’ be followed by all courts throughout, especially in cases where non-violent offences are alleged. "Where special laws such as PMLA with stringent bail conditions are concerned, the Petitioners seek that such bail provisions be harmonised with Article 21 of the Constitution."