The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear applications demanding that a July 2022 verdict upholding amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act be reconsidered, Live Law reported.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices SK Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi listed the case for hearing on November 22.

On July 27 last year, the Supreme Court had dismissed over 200 petitions challenging the constitutionality of sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, as well as the powers of the Enforcement Directorate to investigate crimes under the legislation.

The court had said that Enforcement Case Information Reports, or ECIRs, in money-laundering cases could be equated with first information reports in other crimes. The judges held that it was not mandatory for the Enforcement Directorate to provide an ECIR to the accused person, and disclosing the reasons for arrest was enough.

On Wednesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, objected to the three-judge bench hearing the applications when a review petition against the July 2022 verdict was pending.

Mehta also pointed out that a delegation of global money-laundering and terrorist financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force is slated to visit India in November to review the implementation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. He contended that on this account, it would be in “national interest” to adjourn the matter by a month or two, according to The Hindu.

However, Justice Kaul remarked: “Even scrutiny can be in national interest.”

The bench noted that the applicants were only seeking the reconsideration of some aspects of the judgement. It said that it would hear the Union government’s preliminary objections on the next date of hearing.

Earlier on Wednesday, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the applicants, asked how the July 2022 judgement said that the Prevention of Money Laundering Act was not a penal statute or an Act that stipulates some form of punishment.

“That is my first problem,” he said, according to Live Law. “I can be convicted for money laundering and sentenced to seven years imprisonment and in some cases 10 years. And it’s not a penal statute?”

Sibal added that persons summoned under the Act do not know whether they are being called as accused or as witnesses.

Further, he questioned why the court held that there was no need to supply ECIRs to accused persons. “When I don’t know what the allegation against me is, how can I get bail?” he asked.

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