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  • According to the Supreme Court, there is no requirement to formally register an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) before initiating penal action or prosecution against a person involved in a process or activity involving proceeds of crime under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. 
  • "Suffice to say that an ECIR cannot be equated with a FIR, which is mandatory to be recorded and provided to the accused under the provisions of the 1973 Code," the Court stated. 
  • The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and CT Ravikumar observed that the ECIR is a "internal document created by the department" and that providing the ECIR to the person concerned is not mandatory in every case.
  • If made mandatory, revealing a copy of an ECIR may defeat the purpose of the 2002 Act, including frustrating the attachment of property (proceeds of crime), the court added. 
  • The court also stated that it is sufficient if the ED discloses the reason for the arrest at the time of arrest. 
  • The court was considering the submission that, while every FIR registered by an officer under Section 154 of the Cr.P.C. is required to be forwarded to the jurisdictional Magistrate, this procedure is not followed in ECIR cases.
  • It was argued that under the current situation, the ED can arrest an individual on the basis of an ECIR without informing him of its contents, which is arbitrary and violates an accused's constitutional rights. 
  • The right of an accused to obtain a copy of the First Information Information Report at an early stage, as well as the right to know the allegations, was argued to be an inherent part of Article 21.
  • The bench observed that, under CrPC procedure, the officer in charge of a police station is required to record information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, in terms of Section 154 of the 1973 Code, but there is no corresponding provision in the 2002 Act requiring registration of money-laundering offence. 
  • To hold that the provision of ECIR to the person concerned is not required in every case, the bench stated that as long as the person has been informed about the grounds for his arrest, that is sufficient compliance with the mandate of Article 22(1) of the Constitution.


 

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