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Judiciary

SC declines to reconsider judgement holding conspiracy to be scheduled offence under PMLA only if offence specifically mentioned [Read Order]

By Jhanak Singh      27 March, 2024 07:40 PM      0 Comments
SC declines to reconsider judgement holding conspiracy to be scheduled offence under PMLA only if offence specifically mentioned

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has dismissed to reconsider its judgement, which has held that the offence of criminal conspiracy punishable under Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code will become a scheduled offence only if it is related to an act, specifically included in the Schedule of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

In its order on March 18, 2024, a bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal dismissed a review petition filed against the judgment of November 29, 2023.

"We have perused the judgment and order of November 29, 2023 which has been sought to be reviewed. There is no error apparent on the record. Even otherwise, there is no ground for review," the bench said.

The bench rejected an application for an open court hearing in the case.

The judgment was then delivered on an appeal filed by Pavana Dibbur, sought to be prosecuted for money laundering on the basis of criminal conspiracy for purchasing two properties in Bengaluru, one from Alliance Business School for Rs 13.05 Cr and another from Madhukar Angur for Rs 2.47 Cr.

"In the chargesheets filed in the alleged scheduled offences, there is no allegation of the commission of criminal conspiracy to commit any of the offences included in the Schedule. Except for Section 120B of the IPC, no other offence in the schedule has been applied. Therefore, in this case, the scheduled offence does not exist at all. Hence, the appellant cannot be prosecuted for the offences punishable under Section 3 of the PMLA," the bench said.

The court also said the first property cannot be said to have any connection with the proceeds of the crime as the acts constituting scheduled offence were committed after the property was acquired.

The court had then junked an argument by Additional Solicitor General S V Raju on behalf of the Enforcement Directorate that as Section 120¬B of IPC is included in Part A to the Schedule, even if the allegation is of making a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence which is not a part of the Schedule, the offence becomes a scheduled offence.  

"The offence under Section 120¬B of IPC included in Part A of the Schedule will become a scheduled offence only if the criminal conspiracy is to commit any offence already included in Parts A, B or C of the Schedule. In other words, an offence punishable under Section 120 B of IPC will become a scheduled offence only if the conspiracy alleged is of committing an offence which is otherwise a scheduled offence," 

the court had said.

The bench had said if the argument by the ED is accepted, a conspiracy to commit any offence under any penal law which is capable of generating proceeds, can be converted into a scheduled offence by applying Section 120¬B of the IPC, though the offence is not a part of the Schedule.

Maintaining that the penal laws are to be construed strictly, the bench said, "If the submissions of the Additional Solicitor General are accepted, the Schedule will become meaningless or redundant".

The court also said the July, 2022 judgment in the Vijay Madanlal Choudhary case, which upheld the constitutional validity of the provisions of PMLA, could not deal with the instant question.

 

[Read Order]



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