Supreme court in the recent judgement in the Vijay Mandal Chaudhary vs UOI has upheld the amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, which has created a furor in the political circles. This is due to the apprehension of the political parties and other activists that it can be misused by the government of the day adversely.
WHAT ARE THE RECENT CHANGES?
First of all the term of money laundering has been redefined. Money laundering was earlier not an independent crime, but the amendment seeks to treat money laundering as a stand alone crime .Secondly under Section 3 of the PMLA , the person shall be considered to be involved in the act of money laundering if he is involved in Concealment, possession, Use or projecting untainted property, claiming as untainted property, acquisition. Also under this amendment a person will be considered to be involved in the money laundering , till the time he is getting the fruits of activities related to the money laundering.
WHAT ARE THE INTENTIONS BEHIND IT?
- STRICT VIGIL: On the the uncontrolled black money which is in circulation in the market and is used for the purpose of tax evasion , terrorism etc.
- FORMALISATION: Of the economy, by detering the people to fall for the money laundering.
- NEW ALTERNATIVES: Like crypto currency, requires much tougher sanctions to deal with the emerging problems.
WHAT COULD BE THE PROBABLE ISSUES FOR WHICH THE PEOPLE ARE PROTESTING?
- VAGUE DEFINITIONS: Section 3 of the act says” Whosoever directly or indirectly attempts to indulge or knowingly assists or knowingly is a party or is actually involved in any process or activity connected with the proceeds of the crime including concealment, possession , acquisition or the use and projecting and claiming it as untainted property”. This definition makes a difficult reading on the use of the proceeds of the crime.
- LEGALITY: According to the lawyer Abhinav Shekhari’s analysis it was concluded that PMLA is not a penal statute , but a sui generis one. i.e. law can according to the court can overlook several constitutional safeguards.
- ECIR ISSUES: Enforcement case information report is considered to not to be shared with the individuals. While on the other hand the FIR can be shared with the individuals.
- MISUSE OF THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES: ED which works under the central government can be misused by the government of the day and hence could act as a political leverage in their hands.
- Section 63 of PMLA :States that information must be given by the accused, false information or no information will constitute another offence however compelling the accused to be a witness against themselves is violative of the right against self-incrimination.
WHAT COULD BE THE WAY FORWARD?
Though PMLA amendment has been brought out with the good intention of keeping a vigil on the money laundering, terrorism control and tax evasion but it has caused some serious repercussion in the political scenario. What is the need of the hour is to create a political good will and the acceptance in the social setup. Also since it has now become the law of the land , it needs to be respected by creating a general awareness among the masses. In this way we will be able to enhance the transparency and formalisation in the Indian economy.