Appoint chairman, members for PMLA Appellate Tribunal: Lawyer’s plea in SC
- Presently, over 5,000 cases are pending with the Tribunal of which the bulk of matters arise out of proceedings under PMLA.
Mounting pendency at the Appellate Tribunal, Prevention of Money Laundering Act (ATPMLA) which has remained without a chief since September 2019 has forced a lawyer to approach the top court and demand for the vacancies of Chairman and three members to be filled up urgently.
The ATPMLA deals with sensitive and crucial cases arising out of appeals under not just PMLA, but other laws such as Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Act (SAFEMA), the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), and the Prohibition Of Benami Property Transactions Act.
The petition filed by Delhi-based lawyer Amit Sahni said, “The tribunal is struggling to dispense justice particularly in absence of its Chairman and three members out of sanctioned strength of four and acute shortage of administrative staff.” The Ministry of Finance is the sole respondent in the petition.
In November 2020, the petitioner sought information from the Government under the Right to Information Act on total pendency of cases and vacancies in the Tribunal.
As per the reply received, the post of one Member fell vacant in 2018 followed by that of the Chairman and two other Members in 2019. “The Tribunal is constrained to function with its sole member and therefore sufficient number of matters cannot be taken up in absence of Presiding Officers,” the petitioner said. About 20 administrative posts at the Tribunal also need to be filled up.
Presently, over 5,000 cases are pending with the Tribunal of which the bulk of matters arise out of proceedings under PMLA. Before filing the petition, Sahni filed a representation before the government in December 2020 for taking adequate steps to fill the pending vacancies. However, no action has been taken on his request till date.
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