The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that investigation into 57 cases of terror and naxal financing has resulted in identification of proceeds of crime to the tune of Rs 1,249 crore and attachment of 256 properties worth Rs 982 crore besides filing of 37 prosecution complaints and conviction of two terrorists under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
“The attached properties include that of Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed (a UN-designated terrorist), Syed Salahuddin (head of Hijbul Mujahideen) and Iqbal Mirchi (an international narcotics smuggler involved in the Mumbai blasts),” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the three-judge bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar.
Mehta pointed out that proceeds of crime worth a whopping Rs 98,368 crore were identified and attached provisionally under the Act so far.
Of this, proceeds worth Rs 55,899 crore were confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority and substantial part of attached proceeds were still under adjudication, he said, adding that proceeds worth Rs 853.16 crore have already been confiscated to the Central Government under the orders of the competent court.
The bench is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the scope of powers available to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the PMLA for search, seizure, investigation, and attachment of proceeds of crime.
Citing statistics, Mehta told the court on Wednesday that only a “very small number of cases are being taken up for investigation” in India as compared to countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Austria, Hong Kong, Belgium and Russia.
On Thursday, he explained that low registration of cases in India “is due to the robust mechanism for risk-based selection of cases for investigation”. Mehta said the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s recommendations provide for no threshold for the selection of cases for investigation under the PMLA while the ED is focusing on cases involving high-value proceeds of crime and cases involving serious predicate offences involving terror financing, narcotics, corruption and offences involving national security, etc”.
The Solicitor General said that since the PMLA is a new law which came into force in 2005, the process of filing of prosecution complaints started mainly in 2012.