The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to take steps for the appointment of the chairperson and members of the Appellate Authority within eight weeks under the law against money laundering.
The court said there is a “dire need” for the constitution of multiple benches of the Authority ad noted the large pendency of cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
“The central government ought to take expeditious steps for appointing Chairperson and other members of the Appellate Authority (AA) within a period of eight weeks,” said Justice Prathiba M Singh in a recent order.
“This Court would like to add that the AA plays a significant role under the PMLA. This Court takes judicial notice of the fact that there are a large volume of cases pending under the PMLA,” it added.
The court’s order came on a petition by a company challenging a 2023 order passed by the Appellate Authority under the PMLA, rejecting its plea seeking transfer of the proceedings to a bench of two members.
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The counsel for the Enforcement Directorate defended the order and said a bench of the Appellate Authority consisting of one member can hear the proceedings under the PMLA Act.
The court observed that PMLA contemplates the existence of a chairperson and other members as well as the constitution of separate benches.
Although one member can constitute an “Adjudicating Authority” under PMLA, “there is clearly a dire need for constitution of multiple Benches of the AA to function simultaneously”, it added.
The court refused to pass directions on the issues raised by the petitioner, saying no grounds were raised in this case for the exercise of its jurisdiction. It also said it has not given an opinion on merits.