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The Supreme Court’s verdict upholding all the controversial provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act

The Supreme Court verdict on the Prevention of Money Laundering Act fails to protect personal liberty from draconian provision

Narrow view

The Supreme Court’s upholding all the controversial provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) falls short of judicial standards of reviewing legislative action. Undergirding every aspect of its analysis is a belief that India’s commitment to the international community on strengthening the domestic legal framework for combating money-laundering is so inviolable that possible violation of fundamental rights can be downplayed. The judgment repeatedly invokes the “international commitment” behind Parliament’s enactment of the law to curb the menace of laundering of proceeds of crime which, it underscores, has transnational consequences such as adversely impacting financial systems and even the sovereignty of countries. There is, no doubt, widespread international concern over the malefic effects of organised crime fuelling international narcotics trade and terrorism. Much of these activities are funded by illicit money generated from crime, laundered to look legitimate and funnelled into the financial bloodstream of global and domestic economies. A stringent framework, with apposite departures from the routine standards of criminal procedure, may be justified in some circumstances.

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