Section 45 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act is unconstitutional.
Section 45 of the 2002 Act, which was brought into force in 2005, originally read as follows:
“45. Offences to be cognizable and non- bailable.-
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974),-
(a) every offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable;
(b) no person accused of an offence punishable for a term of imprisonment of more than three years under Part A of the Schedule shall be released on bail or on his own bond unless-
(i) the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose the application for such release; and
(ii) where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application, the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail:
Provided that a person, who, is under the age of sixteen years, or is a woman or is sick or infirm, may be released on bail, if the Special Court so directs:
Provided further that the Special Court shall not take cognizance of any offence punishable under section 4 except upon a complaint in writing made by- (i) the Director; or (ii) any officer of the Central Government or a State Government authorised in writing in this behalf by the Central Government by a general or special order made in this behalf by that Government.
(2) The limitation on granting of bail specified in clause (b) of sub-section (1) is in addition to the limitations under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) or any other law for the time being in force on granting of bail.”
The change made by Section 45 is that, for the purpose of grant of bail, what was now to be looked at was offences that were punishable for a term of imprisonment of three years or more under Part A of the Schedule, and not offences under the 2002 Act itself. At this stage, Part A of the Schedule contained two paragraphs – Para 1 containing Sections 121 and 121A of the Indian Penal Code, which deal with waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against the Government of India, and conspiracy to commit such offences. Paragraph 2 dealt with offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Part B of the Schedule, as originally enacted, referred to certain offences of a heinous nature under the Indian Penal Code, which included murder, extortion, kidnapping, forgery and counterfeiting. Paragraphs 2 to 5 of Part B dealt with certain offences under the Arms Act 1959, Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. When the Act was originally enacted, it was, thus, clear that the twin conditions applicable under Section 45(1) would only be in cases involving waging of war against the Government of India and offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. Even the most heinous offences under the Indian Penal Code were contained only in Part B, so that if bail were asked for such offences, the twin conditions imposed by Section 45(1) would not apply. Incidentally, one of the reasons for classifying offences in Part A and Part B of the Schedule was that offences specified under Part B would get attracted only if the total value involved in such offences was Rs.30 lakhs or more (under Section 2(y) of the Act as it read then). Thereafter, the Act has been amended several times. The amendment made in 2005 in Section 45(1) was innocuous and is not an amendment with which we are directly concerned. The 2009 Amendment further populated Parts A and B of the Schedule. In Part A, offences under Sections 489 A and B of the Indian Penal Code, relating to counterfeiting were added and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which dealt with terrorist activities, were added. In Part B, several other offences were added from the Indian Penal Code, as were offences under the Explosives Act 1884, Antiquities and Arts Treasures Act 1972, Securities and Exchange Board of India Act 1992, Customs Act 1962, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, Emigration Act 1983, Passports Act 1967, Foreigners Act 1946, Copyright Act 1957, Trademarks Act 1999, Information Technology Act 2000, Biological Diversity Act 2002, Protection of Plant and Farmers Rights Act 2001, Environmental Protection Act 1986, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act) 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act) 1981 and Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms of Continental Shelf Act, 2002.
By the Amendment Act of 2012, which is Act 2 of 2013, a very important amendment was made to the Schedule by which the entire Part B offences were transplanted into Part A.
The classification of three years or more of offences contained in Part A of the Schedule must have a reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved under the 2002 Act. Continue reading “Restrictions on grant of bail under PMLA if valid”