Composition of the Adjudicating Authority (AA) & Appellate Tribunal (AT) under PMLA

As held in http://lobis.nic.in/ddir/dhc/SMD/judgement/11-01-2018/SMD11012018CW53202017.pdf 

Under Section 6 PMLA, the ADJUDICATING AUTHORITY is supposed to consist of the Chairperson and two other members – one of whom shall be a person having experience  in the field of law.

Section 6(3) further sets out what the qualifications for appointment as a member of an ADJUDICATING AUTHORITY should be.

It is seen that under Section 5 PMLA, the jurisdiction of the ADJUDICATING AUTHORITY, may be exercised by the Benches thereof. 

Under Section 6(5)(b) PMLA, a Bench may be constituted by  the Chairperson of the  ADJUDICATING AUTHORITY, with  one or two members, as the Chairperson may deem fit.

Therefore, it is possible to have single-member benches.  The word ‘bench’ therefore does not  connote plurality. There could, even under Section 6(5)(b) PMLA, be a ‘single member bench‘. When Section 6(6) PMLA states that a Chairperson can transfer a member from one bench to another bench, it has to be understood in the above context of there also being single-member benches.

It does not mean that since the Adjudicating Authority (Procedure) Regulations 2013 requires every order- sheet to have the signatures of the Chairperson and members constituting the bench, then every matter has to be heard by a bench comprising the Chairperson and members. This would be an erroneous interpretation which is contrary to the main provision of the PMLA itself, viz., Section 6(5)(b) PMLA.

Likewise, under Rule 3 of the Prevention of Money-laundering (Appointment and Conditions of Service of Chairperson and Members of the Adjudicating Authorities) Rules 2007, although it states that the ADJUDICATING AUTHORITY should have three members, that has to be read along with Section 6(5)(b) that there can be single-member benches. 

By

Vijay Pal Dalmia, Advocate

Supreme Court of India & Delhi High Court

vpdalmia@gmail.com

Mobile: +919810081079 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/vpdalmia/ 

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