Supreme Court Clarifies Admissibility of PMLA Section 50 Statements

Supreme Court: Justice Khanna differentiates admissibility & evidentiary value of PMLA Section 50 statements. Concerns raised on Delhi HC's view. Amanatullah Khan denied anticipatory bail in money laundering case. Details: Amanatullah Khan vs. Directorate of Enforcement.

Supreme Court judge Justice Sanjiv Khanna made remarks about the admissibility and evidentiary value of statements recorded under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He noted that there is a distinction between the two aspects.

"The evidence before the Court is the actual statement made by the person in the Court itself and not the Section 50 PMLA statement. Section 50 statement is not an evidence before the Court," Justice Khanna stated.

The bench, including Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, was hearing a petition from AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan. Khan had challenged the Delhi High Court's decision to deny him anticipatory bail in a money laundering case related to alleged irregularities in the recruitment of the Delhi Wakf Board.

The Delhi High Court had previously stated that "at the stage of adjudicating an anticipatory bail application, the statements recorded under Section 50 of PMLA will be relevant to be considered and appreciated."

However, during the hearing, Justice Khanna expressed concerns about the Delhi HC's observations regarding Section 50 PMLA.

"There are certain observations in the judgment, which go to the merits of the matter. That should not have been there. (Observations) with regard to the credibility of Section 50 statements, [were] not required at this stage," Justice Khanna told Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing the Enforcement Directorate.

"Section 50 statement is a piece of evidence. It is not the evidence before the Court. There is a difference between the two. Evidence before the Court is the actual statement made by the person in the court itself. I am not saying it (Section 50 statement) is not admissible. There is a difference between the two. It is admissible, like any document is admissible, the statement is admissible. But what ultimately matters is the statement made in the Court. Section 50 statement can be used to confront," Justice Sanjiv Khanna clarified.

Section 50 of the PMLA allows an Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer to require a summoned person to make statements regarding a case. In the Vijay Madanlal Chaudhary case, the Supreme Court had dismissed the argument that Section 50 PMLA was unconstitutional for violating the right against self-incrimination guaranteed under Article 20(3) of the Constitution. The Court ruled that statements recorded by ED officials under Section 50 are admissible in evidence.

Regarding Amanatullah Khan's plea, the Supreme Court ultimately denied him anticipatory bail and instructed him to appear before the ED for investigation. However, the Court noted its reservation regarding the Delhi HC's observations on the merits of the case.