21 April 2023 6:42 AM GMT
A plea has been moved in the Kerala High Court challenging the "unilateral" freezing of bank accounts on the ground of complaints being registered on National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (NCCRP), a portal maintained by the Central Government to register cyber crimes. The Single Judge Bench of Justice Viju Abraham directed the State Police Chief to submit a report in this regard, and...
A plea has been moved in the Kerala High Court challenging the "unilateral" freezing of bank accounts on the ground of complaints being registered on National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (NCCRP), a portal maintained by the Central Government to register cyber crimes.
The Single Judge Bench of Justice Viju Abraham directed the State Police Chief to submit a report in this regard, and issued notice to the respondents.
The petitioners herein are account holders in different banks. It is the case of the 1st petitioner, Moideen P., who has a savings bank account in the Kerala Gramin Bank, that a sum of Rs. 3.5 Lakhs was credited in the account as the 2nd instalment of Kerala State Financial Enterprises (KSFE) loan, that was taken by him. From the said amount, Rs. 1.19 Lakhs was withheld by the Branch Manager of the Gramin Bank on the ground that a complaint had been registered against the 1st petitioner on NCCRP portal. Upon the submission of a representation by the 1st petitioner, a reply was sent by the Branch Manager of the Bank showing the lien marked on the amount of Rs. 1.19 Lakh.
Similarly, as regards the 2nd petitioner, it is submitted that the senior Manager and Branch Head of Federal Bank, Trikaripur Branch, issued a notice stating that his account had been frozen as per the directions of the State Cyber Crime Cell, Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The petitioner was also asked to submit certain information. However, despite the 2nd petitioner submitting such information, the competent officer of Federal Bank reiterated that the bank would not defreeze the account, and that they had received instructions from the police in that regard. A representation by the 2nd petitioner before the Gandhinagar Police Station was also not considered by the competent officer, it is submitted.
Some of the petitioners herein also filed detailed representations before the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), seeking an urgent intervention in the matter, it is claimed.
In the plea moved through Advocates K. Rakesh and Ameen Hassan K., it has thus been averred that bank accounts having nexus with a crime could only be frozen as per Section 102 CrPC (Power of police officer to seize certain property), as per which there ought to be specific instructions for freezing by the officers investigating the crime. In the present case, it is submitted that the Bank accounts were simply frozen on the ground that some complaints had been registered on a portal maintained by the Central Government.
It has also been averred that in some of the cases, the notice issued by the investigation officer under Section 91 Cr.PC had been relied upon to freeze the bank accounts, which was also illegal since the said provision only enables the Investigation Officer to order production of documents.
The plea therefore seeks the issuance of a direction by the Court to the banks not to freeze the accounts without specific instructions under Section 102 CrPC, from the investigating officer who is investigating the Cyber Crimes.
Case Title: Moideen P. & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.