The Supreme Court was presented with arguments on Tuesday, highlighting the need to curb the “drastic powers” vested in the Enforcement Directorate (ED) during money laundering investigations. The bench, comprising Justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh, was presiding over a series of pleas pertaining to Gurugram-based realty group M3M under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing M3M directors, raised concerns about the formidable powers granted to the ED. Salve emphasized the urgency of reining in these powers, asserting that failure to do so would jeopardize the safety of individuals in the country. He cited an instance of an allegedly wrongful arrest, which he claimed violated his clients’ rights. Salve stressed the necessity of reining in these expansive powers.

Senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi were presenting the case on behalf of M3M directors, Basant Bansal and Pankaj Bansal, who were arrested in connection with a money-laundering probe related to a bribery case involving a former judge.

In its order, the bench noted that the Bansal brothers would be seeking anticipatory bail from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, thus disposing of their pleas.

The Supreme Court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging a recent Delhi High Court order that had declined to intervene in the arrest of M3M directors in the money-laundering probe linked to a bribery case involving a former judge.

The Bansal brothers were apprehended by the ED on June 14 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Subsequently, they were presented before a special PMLA court in Panchkula, Haryana, which remanded them to five-day ED custody.

Earlier, on June 9, the High Court had granted interim protection from arrest until July 5 to Basant and Pankaj Bansal in the money laundering case related to the real estate firm IREO.

The Bansals argued that their custody amounted to illegal detention and was an attempt to circumvent the High Court’s order that protected them from coercive action in another money laundering case.

The money laundering case, for which the Bansal brothers were arrested, originated from an FIR filed by the Haryana Police Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on April 17. The FIR implicated a former special judge of CBI, Sudhir Parmar, who was stationed in Panchkula, another M3M director, Roop Kumar Bansal, and an additional individual.

According to the ED, it received information suggesting that Parmar displayed favoritism towards the accused in a money laundering case involving the real estate firm IREO.

Subsequently, the ACB registered a case, and the Punjab and Haryana High Court suspended Parmar.

On June 1, the ED conducted raids on the M3M Group, its directors, and IREO in Delhi and Gurugram. In a press statement, the ED alleged that the owners, controllers, and promoters of the M3M Group, including Basant Bansal, Roop Kumar Bansal, and Pankaj Bansal, deliberately evaded the investigation during the raids. The ED claimed that a substantial amount of money, totaling hundreds of crores, was illicitly funneled through the M3M Group in this case.

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