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No relief for Aam Aadmi Party MLA Jaswant Singh

He claims to be arrested in contravention of Section 19 (1) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act

No relief for Aam Aadmi Party MLA Jaswant Singh

Jaswant Singh. Tribune file



Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, May 27

More than six months after he was arrested in a PMLA case, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Jaswant Singh has failed to get relief from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

“We do not find any manifest illegality in the orders of remand and subsequent proceedings”, a Division Bench of Justice Anupinder Singh Grewal and Justice Kirti Singh ruled while dismissing his plea.

An elected member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly from Amargarh Constituency in Malerkotla, Jaswant Singh had claimed that he was arrested in contravention of Section 19 (1) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Appearing on behalf of the Union of India and other respondents, Additional Solicitor-General of India Satya Pal Jain with senior panel counsel had, on the other hand, submitted that the mandatory provision of Section 19 (1) was complied with, while carrying out the arrest “inasmuch as the written grounds of arrest were duly furnished to him in the presence of an advocate”. The petitioner had also acknowledged the receipt by signing it.

The Bench was also told that the petitioner was repeatedly asked to join the investigation. But he refused to do so. The FIR and enforcement case information report had been registered against him alleging the diversion of loans obtained from banks by an organisation to other companies, as well as his personal account.

Taking up the matter, the Bench observed Section 19(1) stipulates that the officer must be authorised by the Central government and have material in his possession before making an arrest. Based on the material, the officer must have reason to believe the accused is guilty of an offence under PMLA, and these reasons must be recorded in writing. Additionally, the arrested person must be informed of the grounds of arrest.

The Bench asserted that written grounds of arrest were served to him as he was borne out by his signatures. As such, the Bench was satisfied that there was substantive compliance of Section 19(1). The petitioner was arrested on November 6, 2023, and the written grounds of arrest were supplied to him the same day.

“It is manifest that the order of remand, which runs into six pages, has been passed with application of mind and not mechanically or in a routine manner…. Insofar as the submission of the counsel for the petitioner that the grounds of arrest do not contain the material which had formed the basis of his arrest, it is noticed only to be rejected for the reason that it is nowhere provided that the sufficiency of grounds of arrest is to be examined,” the Bench added.

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