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Trial or investigation in PMLA cases can’t stay where no coercive simpliciter has been passed: SC

The Supreme Court underlined, while hearing a batch of pleas in which an interim order suspending arrest was obtained in Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases, that there would be no stay in trial or inquiry in situations where a no coercive simpliciter order had been issued.

The Supreme Court Full Bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Krishna Murari, and V. Ramasubramanian noted, "While directing the petitioners to cooperate with the investigation and granting them the liberty to pursue any legal remedies available to them. “With regards to the order passed by this court, it related to no coercive steps. This order does not result in staying the trial or investigation. That will proceed in accordance with law. Petitioners in the concerned cases can take remedies in accordance with law."

The Top Court further allowed the Investigating Agency to demand that the passport be deposited or that the subject complies with any other condition imposed by the agency, even if there was no ruling for coercive simpliciter.

Mr. SG has provided a list of situations in which the Investigating Agency may demand that the passport be deposited or that any other condition be met despite a court order against coercion. In its order, the Court stated, "Let this be permitted."

In today's session, Justice Khanwilkar listed the order in which the Supreme Court would begin considering the batch of petitions, saying the bench is likely to begin by hearing cases requesting no coercive action, and then go on to cases where interim orders have been issued but additional conditions must be attached. They will evaluate whether or not further conditions can be imposed on them where no coercive action has been ordered.

After the Solicitor General commended the Top Court that it was time that even those orders needed reconsideration, the Court agreed to revisit the orders where an interim relief of no coercive action had been granted on the last date of hearing, relying on an order passed by a three-judge bench of the Top Court to rebut his submission. Because that order has already been issued in a few instances that will be heard on 03.08.2021, it would be appropriate to list this matter(s) with those cases so that comparable orders are issued in all cases with regard to temporary relief of no coercive measures, as requested.

As a result, these petitions, along with SLP(Crl.)No.4634/2014 and related cases, will be listed on 03.08.2021, on which date the request for ad-interim relief, at least in the form of no coercive steps being taken against the petitioners as granted in the other cases, will be considered," the Court had ordered.

The Court also took note of the fact that in pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the relevant provision(s) of the PMLA Act, the parties sought quashing of proceedings, interim relief of staying further proceedings related to the issuance of summons under section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 during the pendency of the pleas, and no coercive measures to be taken.

Regardless of any order for no coercive simpliciter, the Supreme Court allowed the Investigating Agency to insist on depositing the passport or complying with any other condition imposed by the agency.

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