New Delhi, August 3
At least 17 Opposition parties, including the TMC and AAP, on Wednesday expressed “deep apprehensions” about the long-term implications of the Supreme Court verdict, upholding the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) amendments, and strongly pitched for a review.
In a joint statement, the parties said the judgment will strengthen the hands of a government that “indulges in political vendetta” to target its opponents in a “mischievous and malicious manner” and expressed hope that this “dangerous verdict will be short-lived”.
“We place on record our deep apprehension on the long-term implications of the recent Supreme Court judgment upholding, in entirety, the amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, without examining whether some of these amendments could have been enacted by way of the Finance Act,” the statement said.
The parties said, “they hold and will always hold” the Supreme Court in the highest respect.
“Yet, we are compelled to point out that the judgment should have awaited the verdict of a larger Bench for examining the constitutionality of the Finance Act route to carry out amendments.” The opposition leaders said if tomorrow the SC holds that the challenged amendments through Finance Act are bad in law, the entire exercise would become futile and lose law, then the entire exercise would become futile and lose judicial time.
“These far-reaching amendments strengthened the hands of a government, indulging in the political vendetta of the worst kind, by using these very amended laws relating to money laundering and investigation agencies, to target its political opponents in a mischievous and malicious manner,” the opposition parties alleged.
“We are also very disappointed that the highest judicial authority, invited to give an independent verdict on the lack of checks and balances in the Act, has virtually reproduced arguments given by the executive in support of draconian amendments. We hope that the dangerous verdict will be short-lived and constitutional provisions will prevail soon,” the opposition leaders said in their joint statement.
Among the parties that have signed the joint statement are the Congress, the TMC, DMK, AAP, NCP, Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena, CPI-M, CPI, IUML, RSP, MDMK, RJD and RLD, among others.
Some of the leaders who have signed the joint statement include leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Sharad Pawar, Ram Gopal Yadav, Derek O’Brien, T R Baalu, Elamaram Kareem, Binoy Viswam, Kapil Sibal and Narain Dass Gupta.
Congress’ Jairam Ramesh shared the joint statement on Twitter and said 17 opposition parties plus one independent Rajya Sabha MP have signed a joint statement expressing deep apprehensions on long-term implications of the recent SC judgment upholding amendments to PMLA, 2002 and called for its review.
On July 27, the top court upheld the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) powers relating to arrest, attachment of property, search and seizure under the PMLA.
Observing that it is a common experience world over that money laundering can be a “threat” to the good functioning of a financial system, the apex court upheld the validity of certain provisions of the PMLA, some of which were contested by over 240 petitioners, including Congress MP Karti Chidambaram.
The joint statement comes a day after raids were conducted by the ED on the premises of the National Herald newspaper in the national capital and elsewhere.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have already been questioned by the probe agency in a money laundering case pertaining to the National Herald newspaper case.
The Congress has been accusing the government of indulging in “vendetta politics in targeting opposition leaders by misusing probe agencies against them”.