On October 18, 2023, the Supreme Court (SC) bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, and Justice Bela M Trivedi agreed to hear applications seeking reconsideration of its ‘Vijay Madanlal Chaudhary vs. Union of India’ judgment. The judgment upheld various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and became controversial for strengthening the powers of the ED (Directorate of Enforcement). The SC bench listed the matter for hearing on November 22, 2023. During the court proceedings, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Central Government, objected to the bench hearing the matter and requested to defer the matter till the conclusion of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force). The SG said, “It is in the National Interest to wait for a month or two. Every section being challenged can it again be challenged this way? Please be alert and alarmed.”
In this context, Justice Kaul remarked, “You cannot prohibit petitioners from arguing. National Interest is in everything and sometimes in hearing this also. Constitutional jurisprudence of this court has evolved; 2-judges mater goes to 3 judges, 3 judges then sent to 5 judges… We are alert but we won’t be alarmed by any part… Sometimes one side thinks we are faced with adverse orders already. You cannot prevent us to lay down the contours of hearing.” While presenting the contentions, SG Mehta argued for an increase in the issue of repeated challenges against the PMLA provisions. He said, “Can I bring a partition tomorrow before a 5-judge bench that we do not agree with same-sex judgment then can it be referred to a larger bench.” To this, Justice Kaul replied in an affirmation, “Of course they can.”
In association with this, the SC bench further said, “We are the final court. Suppose review is dismissed, curative is dismissed, and that plea again comes and the bench feels that some issues are overlooked. Then it can be looked at again, and we from larger benches. When we finally decide a matter then power of judicial has to be larger and at times power of appellant court has to be wider. We are not saying the decision is incorrect, but nuances have been raised, and will hear the same and see if it merits hearing.” The matter was further listed for hearing on November 22, 2023.