Request Made to CJI on Filling Vacancies at PMLA Appellate Tribunal: Centre Tells HC

The Centre Thursday told the Delhi High Court that a request has been made to the Chief Justice of India for the nomination of a Supreme Court judge or a Chief Justice of a High Court to the search committee for filling up the vacant posts at the Appellate Tribunal for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (ATPMLA). The Centre’s counsel informed Justice Rekha Palli that the Tribunal (Conditions of Service) Rules, 2021 have been notified and the response from the CJI is now awaited to take the process of appointment further. Once the ball starts rolling it will pass through every necessary court to reach its destination, said lawyer Manish Mohan, representing the Centre.

The Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India notified the Tribunal (Conditions of Service) Rules, 2021 on 15.09.2021… After notification of Rules, a letter dated 21.09.2021 has been sent to Hon’ble Chief Justice of India for the nomination of Hon’ble Judge of Supreme Court or Chief Justice of High Court as the Member of Search-Cum-Selection Committee (SCSC). “That since then, a response to the same from the office of the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India is awaited, the status report filed by Under Secretary, Department of Revenue stated.

The court sought a further status report from the Centre on the status of appointments and listed the matter for further hearing on January 18. The court was hearing a petition filed by Fullerton India Credit Company Limited seeking direction to appoint the chairperson as the presiding officer to the appellate tribunal constituted under the PMLA to deal with economic offence cases under various laws including money laundering. On the last occasion, the court had directed the Centre to clearly state the time frame within which it proposed to make functional the appellate tribunal here and fill up the post of chairperson and members.

The Centre had then said that Parliament has enacted the Tribunal reforms Act, 2021, which provides for the Conditions of Service of Chairperson and Members of the Tribunals, and the relevant rules were in the process of being formulated. The court had on August 5, said it expected the Centre to ensure that the ATPMLA in Delhi would be made functional by September 14. It had said numerous petitions were being filed before it every day assailing the judgements passed by the PMLA adjudicating authority as the appeals are not being taken up by the appellate tribunal due to want of quorum.

The petition, filed through advocate Jagdeep Sharma, said the petitioner is a non-banking finance company and is in the business of extending various types of loan facilities in India. The plea said it was constrained to approach the high court against the inaction of the government to appoint the chairman of ATPMLA even though the tribunal does not have the chairman for over two years and due to which the petitioner’s case has not been listed for hearing for more than a year.

The tribunal is mandated to consist of a Chairman, who has to be a retired judge of this court or high court, and four members, who can be from the fields of law, finance, and management.

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