Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K Agrawal J., dismissed the petition holding that bank account is considered as property within the meaning of Section 102(1) Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
The facts of the case are such that the petitioner was working as a Patwari when a complaint was registered against him for offence punishable under Sections 13(1)(b) and 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 i.e. PCA consequent to which investigation was conducted and vide order dated 03-12-2020 the petitioner and his family members were restricted to make any transaction with the amount deposited prior to 24-02-2020. Being aggrieved, instant petition was filed in the nature of mandamus directing the respondents to allow him and his son and daughter to operate their bank accounts as they are in need of money and in the absence thereof, they are unable to continue their day to day activities also alleging that Sections 102(2) and 102(3) of Criminal Procedure Code i.e. CrPC and provisions of Sections 17 and 18 of the Act of 1988 have not been complied with, therefore, appropriate direction be issued for de-freezing their accounts.
Counsel for the petitioners relied on judgment Teesta Atul Setalvad v. State of Gujarat, (2018) 2 SCC 372 and submitted that Section 102(3) of CrPC was not complied. It was further submitted that it is the hard-earned money of the petitioner and his son and daughter which has been deposited in their accounts which could not have been seized without making an inquiry under Section 102(1) of CrPC as it is a blatant violation of the human right of the petitioner as they are rendered helpless during these hard times of COVID-19.
Counsel for the respondents submitted that the petitioner has the remedy of making an application for de-freezing their bank accounts under Section 457 of the CrPC. Even otherwise, the provisions contained under Section 102(3) of CrPC, though belatedly, but have been complied with and the investigation by respondent 3 has been conducted strictly in accordance with the law.
The Court relied on judgments State of Maharashtra v. Tapas D. Neogy, (1999) 7 SCC 685 ; M.T. Enrica Lexie v. Doramma , 2012 CRI.L.J. 2845 wherein it was observed that it is quite vivid that for freezing the account under Section 102 of the CrPC, there is no need of prior notice to the account holder or to the accused or to the suspect for the purpose of investigation and the provisions contained in Section 102 (1), (2) and (3) of the CrPC have to be complied with for freezing the account and it can be freezed only when it is the property alleged to be stolen or suspected to have been stolen or would be object of crime under the investigation or has direct link with commission of offence for which the police officer is investigating into as it has been held by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Tapas D. Neogy (supra) that the property not suspected for commission of offence which is being investigated by the police officer cannot be seized and similarly the provisions contained in Section 102 of the CrPC have also to be complied with forthwith by informing to the concerned Magistrate without any avoidable delay.
The Court thus held that based on the observations and aforementioned judgments that the bank account of the accused or any of his relation constitutes property within the meaning of Section 102 of CrPC and the police officer in the course of an investigation can seize the operation of the said account if such asset has a direct link with the commission of offence for which the police officer is investigating into. As such, the investigating officer is entitled to seize the operation of the bank accounts in accordance with Section 102(1) of CrPC. The petitioner was also directed to avail the remedy available to him under Section 451/457 of CrPC and file an application for de-freezing his bank accounts before the Special Judge (PC Act), Durg.
In view of the above, the petition was disposed of.[Ram Naresh Tiwari v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 1185, decided on 14-12-2020]
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