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Power under Section 50 of PMLA to issue summons cannot be restrained on apprehension that it could l

In the instant case, the petitioner was aggrieved by issuance of summons dated 18.08.2023 issued under Section 50 of PMLA by ED for appearance on 21.08.2023 whereby he apprehended potential threat of being arrested on the basis of the summons received for which reason he sought quashing of the ECIR. The petitioner also sought interim relief of stay of all proceedings emanating from the ECIR and against any coercive action that may be taken against him by the ED inter-alia contending that his name did not appear in the FIR related to the scheduled offence. Further, it was an admitted position that the petitioner has neither been named as an accused in the ECIR nor has he been named as an accused in the prosecution complaint filed in the matter. Hon. High Court observed that the power under section 50 of the PMLA to issue summons to a person and to require the production of documents and record statements, which is akin to the powers of a civil court, is different and distinct from the power under section 19 to arrest a persona and these are two separate and distinct provisions.

Further, the High Court observed that the exercise of the powers under one, cannot be restrained on the apprehension that it could lead to the exercise of powers under the other. If that is permitted, any and every person summoned under section 50 of the PMLA, to produce documents or give a statement on oath, could resist such summons expressing mere apprehension that he may face arrest at the hands of the ED, in exercise of the powers under section 19 of the PMLA which would be antithetic to the statutory scheme.

The High Court also held that an application seeking anticipatory bail will be maintainable notwithstanding that the petitioner is not named as an accused in the ECIR or in the prosecution complaint. However, the High Court refused to quash ECIR on the ground that the copy of ECIR is not on record since it was never supplied to the petitioner and further observed that Hon. the Apex Court in Vijay Madanlal Chaudhary vs Union of India has held that ECIR is an internal document and supply of copy of ECIR cannot be insisted.