Delhi HC seeks Centre’s stand on plea against inclusion of CA, CS within ‘reporting entities’ under PMLA
It further states that consequences of non-compliance of above mentioned will lead to criminal prosecution
The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the Centre’s stand on a plea taking objection to the inclusion of Chartered Accountants, Company Secretaries and Cost Accountants within 'reporting entities' under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula granted time to Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma to obtain appropriate instructions in the matter, wherein the petitioner Rajat Mohan, a practising Chartered Accountant, has challenged the gazette notification dated May 5 which expanded the definition of the word “person” used in Section 2(1)(sa)(vi) as well as the definition of the word “activity” under the Act.
The plea which has been listed for next hearing on October 4, states that a class of professionals, i.e., Chartered Accountants/Company Secretaries/Cost Accountants have been included within the definition of 'Reporting Entities' and onerous obligations under the PMLA have been put on them.
It further states that consequences of non-compliance of above mentioned will lead to criminal prosecution.
The petitioner has argued that the effect of the government's decision would be that it will virtually prompt CAs and other such professionals to police their own clients with whom they interact in a fiduciary capacity.
"The aforementioned sections give unbridled and unlimited, arbitrary, and whimsical power to the authority under the PMLA to pass any directions against 'reporting entities'. The operation of the notification read with the aforementioned provisions of PMLA threaten the petitioner’s fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 19(1)(g), 20 (3) and 21 of the Constitution of India along with the Constitutional right under Article 300A of the Constitution of India, and other civil and statutory rights, including the right of privacy, and the protection accorded to professional, privileged and confidential communications," the plea states.
“The impugned notification is further ultra vires the object of the PMLA as it creates the framework for a fishing and roving enquiry into every financial transaction of each individual/citizen of the country who attends the office of the petitioner to engage his services without exception even before a money laundering proceeding has been initiated against any such citizen/individual or juristic entity,” the plea states.
It further says that the scope and application of PMLA is extremely rigorous and strict and even a bonafide oversight shall put the life, liberty careers of the Reporting Entities under threat. “A sword of Damocles would always remain hanging on the head of the petitioner,” it is contended.
Published: 21 Aug 2023, 3:43 PM