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Confession under Section 50 of PMLA not substantive evidence: Delhi HC

New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) The confessional statement of a co-accused under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is not a substantive piece of evidence and can be used only for the purpose of corroboration, the Delhi High Court has held.

New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) The confessional statement of a co-accused under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is not a substantive piece of evidence and can be used only for the purpose of corroboration, the Delhi High Court has held.

Justice Vikas Mahajan stated that Section 50 of PMLA may be judicial proceedings for a limited purpose but a confession made by an accused in his statement under the provision is not a judicial confession.

The court's ruling came while granting bail to businessman Sanjay Jain in a money laundering case connected with the alleged IIFCO fertiliser scam where Rs 685 crore has been claimed to have been paid as kickbacks.

'It is trite that the court cannot start with the confession of the co-accused to arrive at a finding of guilt but rather after considering all other evidence placed on record and arriving at the guilt of the accused, can the court look at the statement of the co-accused to receive assurance to the conclusion of guilt,' said the court in a recent order.

'Thus, the confessional statement of a co-accused under Section 50 of the PMLA is not a substantive piece of evidence and can be used only for the purpose of corroboration in support of other evidence to lend assurance to the court in arriving at a conclusion of guilt,' the court said.

Section 50 of PMLA deals with the powers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to issue summons, seek production of documents or examine a person in connection with a probe.

The ED opposed the regular bail plea on various grounds, including that there were section 50 statements by certain witnesses to support the flow of money trail amongst the accused persons.

In the order, the court noted that the question of weightage to be given to the statements under Section 50 of PMLA has to be tested at the end of the trial and not at the stage of bail and section 30 of the Evidence Act provides that a confession against the co-accused should be treated as a piece of corroborative evidence.

Based upon the material produced before it at this stage, the court observed that 'prima facie the predicate offence appears to be weak in nature and the petitioner is entitled to the benefit of the same'.

The CBI has alleged in the predicate case that between 2007 and 2014, in order to claim higher subsidies, IFFCO CEO U S Awasthi and Indian Potash head P S Gahlaut, as part of a “criminal conspiracy”, imported fertilisers at highly inflated rates.

The high court said that besides the petitioner, no other accused under the PMLA was in custody and 'there are reasonable grounds for believing that the petitioner is not guilty of the offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail'. PTI ADS ADS KVK KVK

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