2023 (1) TMI 642 - HC - PMLA
Search and seizure conducted on 17.10.2022 and consequential panchanamas contrary to the Section 17 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act - Challenge on the ground that the reasons are to be recorded in writing before issuing search warrant and the reasons are to be communicated immediately after the search and seizure - reasons to believe - HELD THAT:- This Court is of considered view that the Additional Director of the Enforcement Directorate without recording the 'reasons to believe' issued search warrant/authorisation to his subordinates and the Deputy Director of the Enforcement recorded the reasons to believe without any date and time, which clearly shows that without following the requirements under Section 17 (1) of PML Act conducted search and seizure and seized jewellery, cash and other articles belonging to the petitioners.
In the instant case the record reveals that the Additional Director of Enforcement Directorate without recording the ‘reasons to believe’ as contemplated under Section 17 (1) of PML Act, issued Search Warrant/Authorisation to the Deputy Director to conduct search and seizure of the premises of the petitioners and thereafter the Deputy Director recorded ‘reasons to believe” without any date and time.
The Hon’ble Apex Court in OPTO CIRCUIT INDIA LTD. VERSUS AXIS BANK & OTHERS [2021 (2) TMI 117 - SUPREME COURT], held that the authorised Officer is vested with sufficient power and such power is circumscribed by a procedure laid down under the statute, as such the power is to be exercised in that manner alone, failing which it would fall foul of the requirement of complying due process under law.
Thus, the action of the respondents in conducting search and seizure at the premises of the petitioner No.1-company and the residences of petitioners 2 to 4 and seizing of all the cash, jewellery and other articles in pursuance to the search warrant/authorization dated 17.10.2022 is contrary to the Section 17 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and accordingly the same is hereby set aside. The respondents are directed to release all the jewellery, cash and other articles seized in pursuance to the search warrant/authorization dated 17.10.2022 - petition allowed.