The Delhi High Court, in the case of Poonam Jain vs Union of India & Ors, noted that a person being prosecuted against has a right to be provided with all the material relied upon by the prosecuting agency to prosecute her/ him.
In the instant case, a search was conducted at the residences of the petitioners and their statements were recorded and several documents were seized.
They were issued show cause notices under Section 276 C(1) and Section 277 of the Income Tax Act, Section 181 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 50 and 51 of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act. They sought to be provided with a copy of their statements and the documents seised. However, the same was denied to them.
A bench comprising Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Anil Kumar Chawla noted that a person against whom a prosecution is being initiated cannot be denied a copy of the material relied upon to prosecute her/ him.
“9. …The basic principle of natural justice requires that the person being proceeded against has to be furnished with copies of the material (whether in the form of documents or statements) gathered against such person and which is being relied upon by the authority which is prosecuting such person. This may, in a given case, and if the prosecution or agency makes out a case in that behalf, be subject to safeguards requiring the person to maintain the confidentiality of such document depending on their nature and contents. But to say that the person being prosecuted or proceeded against can only be 'shown' such documents, but not provided copies thereof is untenable even on a plain reading of Article 26 (2) of the OECD Model Convention.”
The court further noted that these principles of natural justice would be applicable even if there’s no express provision in the governing statute.
Read the Judgment here.