Millennium Post (Kolkata)

SC: PMLA can’t be applied if conspiracy charge not related to scheduled offence


The Supreme Court has rejected a petition seeking a review of its ruling that a person cannot be charged under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by invoking Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) if the alleged criminal conspiracy is not related to a scheduled offence under PMLA.

Section 120B of the IPC, which provides for punishment for a criminal conspiracy, was at the center of this case. The bench, comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal, dismissed the petition seeking a review of the verdict delivered on November 29, 2023. The verdict also stated that it is not necessary for a person accused under Section 3 of the PMLA to have been shown as the accused in the scheduled offence. The bench, in its recent order, stated: “Applicatio­ns seeking hearing of the review petitions in Open Court are rejected. Delay condoned. We have perused the judgement and order dated November 29, 2023, which has been sought to be reviewed. There is no error apparent on the record. Even otherwise, there is no ground for review. Review petitions are dismissed.”

On November 29, the top court held that the offence punishable under Section 120B of the IPC will become a scheduled offence only if the conspiracy alleged is of committing an offence which is specifical­ly included in the Schedule.

The top court interprete­d the provisions of the PMLA and stated that if two reasonable interpreta­tions can be given to a particular provision of a penal statute, the court should generally adopt the interpreta­tion that avoids the imposition of penal consequenc­es. In other words, a more lenient interpreta­tion of the two needs to be adopted.

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