SC adjourns hearing on Chhattisgarh govt’s plea challenging PMLA

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned hearing on the plea filed by the Chhattisgarh government challenging the constitutional validity of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice MM Sundresh deferred the matter to August after a letter for adjournment was circulated by the state.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju appeared for the Enforcement Directorate in the matter.

The state government alleged in its plea that the central investigating agencies are being misused to intimidate, harass and disturb the normal functioning of the non-BJP state governments.

Chhattisgarh govt filed a plea challenging the law: The Bhupesh Baghel-led Congress government filed the original suit challenging the law under Article 131 that empowers a state to move the Supreme Court directly in matters of dispute with the Centre or any other state.

Chhattisgarh is the first state to challenge the money laundering act and its provisions. Earlier, private individuals and parties had challenged the law on various grounds, but its validity was upheld by a 3-juddge bench of the Supreme Court last year.

The suit said several complaints are being received by the state government on behalf of its officials and the residents of the state that the eenforcement directorate is “torturing, abusing and manhandling” tme in the garb of conducting a probe. Because of this “blatant and excessive misusee of power, Chhattisgarh is being forced to approach the court, it said.

A bench of Chief Justicee D Y Chandrachud and Jutice P S Narasimha was earlier told by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Chhattisgarh government, that the issue is if constitutional importance and requires an urgent hearing.

Giving the details of a particular case, which prompted it to approach the top court, the Chhattisgarh government said an FIR was registered at Kadugodi police station in Bengaluru against one Suryakant tiwari for offences to deter a public servant discharge his duty and destruction of evidence.

“The complainant in the FIR is Income Tax Department and the allegations pertain to alleged illegal collection of levy on coal as well as attempts to influence the public servants through corrupt and illegal means in the state of Chhattisgarh,” the suit said.

It said the enforcemeent directorate on the basis of the predicate offence registered an enforcement cse information reprt dated Sept 29, 2022 and started conducting its invesstigation, which resulted in indiscriminate surveys and raids at various departments of the state government and the arrest of its official.