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Thursday, June 13, 2024

SC: Twin PMLA bail tests not applicable if accused appears before court


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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday held that an accused who is not arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) during a money laundering probe but appears before the special court under the summons issued by such court under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) need not satisfy stringent twin test for bail under Section 45 PMLA.

A Bench comprising Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan said that in such a case where the accused appears before the court according to the summons, the ED will have to apply to the concerned court to get the custody of the accused.

The Court said that Section 45 of the PMLA requires that the court provides the Public Prosecutor an opportunity to oppose the bail application of the accused.

The order states that the court can release the accused only if satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of the offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.

These conditions make it difficult for a money laundering case accused to get bail.

“If the accused appears before the special court by summons by the court, it cannot be treated that he is in custody,” the Supreme Court said.

“Accused who appeared before the court under the summons not required to apply for bail, and thus twin conditions of Section 45 of PMLA not applicable,” the judgment stated.

“If ED wants custody of the accused after the person appears after the summons, ED can get custody after applying to a special court.

Hence, such a person need not satisfy the twin condition for bail under PMLA, the Court clarified.

The Court will only grant custody with reasons satisfying that custodial interrogation is needed,” the apex court held.

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