Millennium Post

HC dismisses Jairam Ramesh's plea against amendments in PMLA through Money Bills

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed a plea by Congress MP Jairam Ramesh challenging amendments made to the money laundering law since 2015, saying he has not been able to justify the delay in filing the petition.

The Congress leader had contended that amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were made in violation of the Constitution as they were enacted as Money Bills and he had come to know about it only recently.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao refused to accept the contention, saying that merely because he came to know recently about the manner in which the amendments were made "would not justify the delay" in approaching the court.

"The plea...that the petitioner (Ramesh) was not aware that such amendments have been carried out as Money Bills, is no reason to challenge the amendments, at least of the years 2015 and 2016 in the year 2019.

"In any case, merely because the petitioner came to know recently that such amendments have been carried out as Money Bills, would not justify the delay," the court said.

It further said that Ramesh has not been able to answer the Centre's contention that he has no locus to challenge the amendments as he was not affected or aggrieved by them.

"We do not think that it is a case where this court should exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India," the bench said and dismissed the plea.

In his petition, the Rajya Sabha MP had said that prior to the present regime at the Centre such amendments were part of an ordinary bill.

A money bill is a piece of legislation which can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha cannot amend or reject it. The Upper House can only make recommendations which may or may not be accepted by the Lower House.

In his plea, Ramesh had alleged that the amendments made to the PMLA were "unconstitutional" and "illegal" as they have no relation to the money bill provisions enumerated in Article 110 of the Constitution.

"Passing the impugned amendments by way of a Money Bill is grossly illegal and is expressly ultra vires the Constitution of India. Such action bypasses the authority of the Upper House and is a desecration of bicameralism which forms an invaluable part of the basic structure of the Constitution," the petition had said.

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