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Benefit of Suo moto extension order passed by the SC for the Covid period cannot be taken by the Department

In Gobindo Das & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. [W.P. A No. 11578 of 2021 dated October 01, 2021], Gobindo Das (Petitioner) has filed the current writ petition challenging the Provisional Attachment order dated December 11, 2020 (impugned provisional attachment order) wherein bank accounts of the Petitioner was attached under Section 5(1) of The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA Act) on the ground that the impugned order has ceased to be valid and lost its force after expiry of 180 days on June 9, 2021 under Section 5(3) of the PMLA Act. Neither has any formal order for confirmation or extension of the impugned provisional attachment order been passed to that effect.

The Adjudicating Authority (“Respondent”) contended that the impugned provisional attachment order should be deemed to have been extended by claiming benefit of the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Suo moto Writ Petition (Civil) No. 3 of 2020 Re-cognizance For Extension Of Limitation which extended the period of limitation because of difficulties faced by litigants/advocates in filing petitions/applications/suits/appeals in the extraordinary times of Covid-19.

The Hon’ble Calcutta High Court observed that the Respondent could not satisfy to the Court as to how it could claim himself as a litigant or advocate who was facing a difficulty in filing an appeal/suit etc. before any judicial or quasi-judicial authority in defense of his inaction in not passing any formal order of extension or confirmation of the order under Section 8 (3) of the PMLA Act.

Relying on judgment passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of S. Kasi v. State reported in 2020 SCC OnLine SC 529 Para 16 (i) & (ii) wherein scope and ambit of the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 23.03.2020 in Suo moto W.P(C) No. 3 of 2020 (supra) has been considered and elaborately discussed with regard to the limitation prescribed for filing Petitions/Applications/Suits/all other proceedings, the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court in the current matter noted that Respondent cannot call himself a litigant or advocate or a Tribunal or a Court or a quasi-judicial authority within the ambit and scope of the aforesaid order in W.P(C) No. 3 of 2020 (supra) and defend its action of not passing an extension order under Section 8(3) of the PMLA Act.

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May 2024