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Source: The post is based on an article “Right about rights” published in The Times of India on 24th August 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India
News: The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down some controversial dimensions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, and the parent legislation enacted in 1988.
About the SC verdict or judgment
The judgment has declared those 2016 amendments null and void or unconstitutional. The amendments sought to bypass constitutional safeguards, that are mentioned in Article 20 of the Constitution, against retrospective application of penal provisions.
The amendment has also reversed the burden of proof and attached criminal provisions to it. It includes up to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment. This leads to a violation of the principle of natural justice and can lead to potential abuse by the prosecution. (Note: Such a burden of proof inversion has also been highlighted by the SC in PMLA)
What will be the implications of the judgment
The welcome outcome of the verdict is that prosecution proceedings for transactions entered prior to the notification of the amendments in 2016 stand quashed.
What should be the course of action?
The Supreme Court is mandated to safeguard the constitutional rights and principles of natural justice.
While dealing with economic offenses, the laws should not circumvent established principles that safeguard against the miscarriage of justice and abuse of power, in an effort to produce results.
SC bench suggested that the government should prioritize getting back the money stolen by economic fugitives.