Weekly Legal Updates ( 17 December to 23 December 2023)

Probe agency can provide arrest ground in writing within 24 hours: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has clarified that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is not required to provide a person accused under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) with a copy of the grounds of detention at the time of arrest. Instead, the grounds can be given in written form within 24 hours, the Supreme Court said.

A bench comprising Justices Bela M Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma emphasised that the written communication of the grounds of arrest must be provided within a reasonable period, specifically within 24 hours of the arrest.

“In our opinion, the person arrested, if orally informed about the grounds at the time of arrest and furnished with a written communication about the grounds as soon as possible, within a reasonably convenient and requisite time of 24 hours of the arrest, that would be sufficient compliance with not only Section 19 of the PMLA but also Article 22(1),” the judgement reads.

The ruling came while dismissing an appeal filed by Supertech chairman Ram Kishor Arora challenging a Delhi High Court order affirming his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case.

“Since by way of safeguard, a duty is cast upon the concerned officer to forward a copy of the order along with the material in his possession to the Adjudicating Authority immediately after the arrest of the person, and to take the person arrested to the concerned court within 24 hours of the arrest, in our opinion, the reasonably convenient or reasonably requisite time to inform the arrestee about the grounds of his arrest would be twenty-four hours of the arrest,” the 28 page judgement reads.

Regarding the specific case, it is noted that the appellant was handed the document containing grounds of arrest when he was arrested, and he signed below the grounds with an endorsement stating, “I have been informed and have also read the above-mentioned grounds of arrest.”

The judgement concludes that, as the appellant was informed about the grounds and signed the endorsement, there was due compliance with the provisions of Section 19 of the PMLA and his arrest could not be said to be violative of Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India.

Previously, in the judgment of Pankaj Bansal vs Union of India, the top court held that the ED must provide the grounds of arrest in writing at the time of arrest, but this ruling does not apply retrospectively.

The bench has now clarified that arrests made without furnishing grounds of arrest before October 3, 2023, cannot be deemed illegal.

(Courtesy:- India Today, 19 December 2023)

In a first, Supreme Court disposed of 52K cases against 49K filed in ’23

The Supreme Court disposed of 52,191 cases till December 15 as against 49,191 registered this year.

“The Supreme Court of India’s unprecedented disposal in 2023 marks a watershed moment in the nation’s legal history. The judiciary’s proactive approach, coupled with the adoption of technology and strategic reforms, has set a new standard for timely and efficient justice delivery,” the top court said in a statement.

“This achievement not only reflects the resilience and adaptability of the Indian legal system but also reaffirms the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the principles of justice in a rapidly evolving world,” it said.

According to figures displayed on the National Judicial Data Grid, there are 80,044 cases currently pending in the Supreme Court.

“With strenuous efforts, the pendency of five-Judge Constitution Bench matters has been reduced from 36 to 19 (in 4 matters, judgment is reserved), six matters pertaining to seven judges, five matters of nine judges. In all these matters, dates have been notified for hearing,” the release stated.

“Even during the vacation, it was for the first time that all the matters which involved human liberty were duly listed from May 22 to July 2. As many as 2,262 matters were listed and 780 matters were disposed of,” it said, adding many of these cases were pending for more than two decades. “The said targets could only be achieved since the Chief Justice of India has designated specific Benches for hearing death reference cases including other criminal matters, Motor Accident Claim Tribunal (MACT) matters, land acquisition matters, compensation matters, direct tax matters, indirect tax matters, and arbitration matters,” it said.

(Courtesy:- The Tribune, 23 December 2023)

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