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Big Setback to ED: SC rules the investigating agency can’t arrest accused under PMLA after special court takes cognisance of complaint

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today ruled that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) cannot arrest an accused on money laundering charges, once the special court has taken cognisance of ED’s complaint. After cognisance is taken of the offence, the ED and its officers are powerless to exercise powers under Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), to arrest the person shown as accused in the complaint, the Apex Court said.

The bench headed by Justices Abhay S. Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan said that, if the ED wants custody of an accused, then it would have to apply to the special court. The bench further stated that if the ED wants to conduct an additional investigation concerning the same offence, it may arrest a person not shown as an accused in the complaint already filed, provided the requirements of Section 19 are fulfilled.

Section 19 of the PMLA allows ED officers to arrest an individual “on the basis of material in possession (and) reason to believe (to be recorded in writing) that the person is guilty”.

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