Ordering the immediate release of Bansal brothers in a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Enforcement Directorate (ED), asking it not to be vindictive and arbitrary.
The apex court also asked the ED to furnish the grounds of arrest to the accused in writing at the time of arrest.
A bench comprising Justices AS Bopanna and Sanjay Kumar stated, “We hold that it would be necessary, henceforth, that a copy of written grounds of arrest is furnished to the arrested person as a matter of course and without exception.”
The court set aside the arrest of brothers Pankaj Bansal and Basant Bansal in the money laundering case against the real estate group M3M. It went to the extent of stating that the ED’s conduct “reeks of arbitrariness” and directed the immediate release of both the accused.
Declaring the arrest to be illegal, the bench made stern observations on the functioning of the ED. It said,
“This chronology of events speaks volumes and reflects rather poorly, if not negatively, on the ED’s style of functioning.”
“The ED, mantled with far-reaching powers, is not expected to be vindictive in its conduct and must be seen to be acting with utmost probity and with the highest degree of dispassion and fairness,” the judgement reads.
The bench also rejected ED’s argument that grounds of arrest need not be informed to the accused in writing. The court holds that written information is necessary to comply with the mandate of Article 22(1) and Section 19 of the PMLA.