Money Laundering Act Verdict To Be Reviewed By Apex Court Today

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The stringent law against hiding, which received a thumbs up from the Supreme Court recently, are up for review again, with the highest court agreeing to listen to a petition that has challenged the judgment. The hearing are held today.

In a judgment last month, the court had upheld the Enforcement Directorate's extensive powers to go looking, seize and arrest, which were challenged in multiple petitions. The petitioners had argued that these powers were mostly misused, especially in cases where opposition leaders are involved.

The 250-odd petitioners had also argued that handing center unchecked powers of arrest where the accused might not be told about reason or evidence, is unconstitutional. They also contended that the employment of statements in court recorded during questioning shouldn't be allowed, since such statements may also be extracted under duress.

The court held that the Enforcement Directorate is "not required to share the ECIR (Enforcement Case Information Report) copy" with the accused. This document, the court said, can not be equated with an FIR (First Information Report).

"It is enough if Enforcement Directorate, at time of arrest, discloses grounds of such arrest," the judges had said.

Declaring that the ED's power of arrest isn't arbitrary, the court said concealment not only affects the nation's social and economic fabric but also tends to market other heinous crimes including terrorism.

The top court's judgment was challenged by Congress's Karti Chidambaram, the son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, who has sought a remain it. The ED is investigating an alleged concealment case during which he has been named.

A favourable verdict was likely to affect an enormous number of opposition leaders – including Congress's Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and Trinamool Congress's Partha Chatterjee -- who are under the scanner of the Central investigating agency. 

With many opposition leaders under the ED scanner over the anti-money laundering laws, the opposition has repeatedly accused the Centre of misusing Central agencies to satisfy a political vendetta.