The Supreme Court’s verdict on the constitutional validity of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is a landmark, historic decision; potent in impacting the future of the cases related to money laundering in the country. The verdict has also upheld the powers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) concerning the arrest, seizure, search, and attachment of properties. The apex court, with its judgment, has set aside the drama of the political parties that always criticized the functioning of the ED and were used to calling it names.
With the judgment, the cases with the ED which were pending due to various reasons for the last several years will witness a paced investigation, which in turn will ensure accountability in the system apart from bringing those to book who are found to have violated the law in the matters that fall under the PMLA. The political parties, particularly those which are in the opposition, must understand the point that the law of the land needs to be respected, no matter what, because making it all about political vendetta, cannot always work. Even if, for the sake of argument, there are elements of political vendetta, the same will be judged by the law and if the law judges it otherwise, what power on earth is going to lay a hand on them?
The ED has been time and again referred to as an agency that bites and tails on the directions of the Government, and there have been such cases even in the past where such agencies were left to hunt down political opponents on various grounds, but now, when the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of the country, has not only upheld the law which has been brought to life not today, not last year, but way back in 2002—nearly 20 years ago, but has also upheld the legality of powers of the ED.
The aim of the Government which brought in the Act— which then got more teeth to cut after several amendments that were made in 2005, 2009, and 2012—was to fight transnational organized crime which also affected the economy of the country as more and more money, if a proper check was not put on it, was being pulled out of the system and invested elsewhere; resulting in Indian economy losing its feet with every passing day. No matter whether the PMLA appears harsh—even as many are alleging that such sweeping powers will infringe the fundamental rights of the citizens—it would not be out of place to state that the vibrant economies across the globe have stringent laws on money laundering. The Act in India, now with more powers, will ensure more accountability, which will then ensure a transparent system: something that will ultimately pave a way for a better and more robust economy in the country.