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Bank Account Of Any Of The Relatives Of An Accused Can Be Seized U/S 102 CrPC: Jammu & Kashmir & Ladakh High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
30 April 2022 8:42 AM GMT
Bank Account Of Any Of The Relatives Of An Accused Can Be Seized U/S 102 CrPC: Jammu & Kashmir & Ladakh High Court
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The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has clarified that the bank account of any of the relations of an accused (of an offence being probed into) falls within the definition of property under Section 102 CrPC.The Bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar further observed that a police officer, during the course of the investigation, can seize or prohibit the operation of the said account of...

The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has clarified that the bank account of any of the relations of an accused (of an offence being probed into) falls within the definition of property under Section 102 CrPC.

The Bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar further observed that a police officer, during the course of the investigation, can seize or prohibit the operation of the said account of the relatives of the accused, if such assets have direct links with the commission of the offence, which the police officer is investigating into.

The case in brief

The Crime Branch, Kashmir, was asked to enquire into all works executed or contracted out by JKPCC after the issuance of a Government Order of 2015 so as to identify irregularities in the award of contracts in violation of prescribed SOP/ procedure and take necessary action under the law.

The petitioners (Kaiser Ahmad Sheikh and Bashir Ahmad War) were the employees of Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC) and during the inquiry, their acts of omission and commission came to the light, which prima facie disclosed the commission of cognizable offence U/S 420, 468, 120-B RPC and 5(2)(d) P.C. Act Svt. 2006. A case was registered.

During the course of the investigation, the bank accounts pertaining to accused Mr Bashir Ahmad War, his spouse Neelofar Bashir (also a petitioner), Mr Kaiser Ahmad Sheikh and his wife namely Ishrat Ara (also a petitioner) were frozen after observing suspicious credits in these account numbers. 

Now, all four petitioners approached Special Judge, Anticorruption, Kashmir, Srinagar for the defreezing of their bank accounts but their application was rejected. Now, they also moved to the High Court.

It was primarily contended that the petitioners Neelofar Jan and Ishrat Ara (spouses of the accused) are not the employees of JKPCC but are working as Government Teachers but still their accounts were frozen without any rhyme and reason.

Court's observations 

At the outset, the Court noted that a police officer, during the investigation of the case, has the power to seize any property which may be alleged or suspected to have been stolen or which may be found under circumstances which create suspicion of commission of an offence.

In the instant case, the Court noted the police officer had found it necessary to analyse the bank accounts of officers and officials who were at the helm of affairs at the relevant time including their kith and kin. For this purpose, the seizure of their bank accounts was absolutely essential.

"Although petitioners have tendered explanation to the investigating agency in respect of these suspicious transactions then the investigating agency cannot take these responses or explanations at their face value. They have to verify and ascertain the truthfulness or otherwise of these claims made by the petitioners. Unless the same is done, it would be premature for the respondent investigating agency to defreeze the accounts but it seems that the petitioners are in a tearing hurry to get their accounts defreezed without allowing a reasonable time to the investigating agency to perform its job," the Court FURTHER remarked.

Now regarding the seizure of accounts of the spouses under Section 102 CrPC, the Court, taking into account the apex court ruling in the case if State of Maharashtra v. Tapas D Neogy, (199) 7 SCC 685, observed that the police officer has the power to do

Consequently, not finding merits in the case, the Court dismissed the petition and asked them to approach the investigating agency, who shall expeditiously look into the explanation and defence put up by the petitioners regarding alleged suspicious transactions, whereafter a decision regarding defreezing of the accounts of the petitioners shall be taken by the investigating agency in accordance with the law.

Case title - KAISER AHMAD SHEIKH & Anr v. SHO P/S CRIME BRANCH KASHMIR along with connected matter

Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (JKL) 19

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