Friday, December 8, 2023

Allahabad High Court dismisses petition by private company challenging seizure of its bank account by investigating officer

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The Allahabad High Court dismissed a Petition of a Private Limited Company filed challenging seizure of its bank account on the instructions of the Investigating Officer by the Bank.

The debit of the bank account of the petitioners (Private Limited Company and others ) has been freezed on the instructions of the Investigating Officer dated 24.03.2022 by the Bank as a sequel to the F.I.R. lodged at Police Station Gomti Nagar, District Lucknow Eastern (Commissionerate Lucknow) on 16th September, 2021 for offence punishable under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471 I.P.C.

Feeling aggrieved by the debit freeze of the petitioners’ account on the instructions of the Investigating Officer, the petition has been filed by the petitioners.

The contention of the Counsel for the petitioners is that as per Section 102 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, seizure of bank account shall forthwith be reported to the Magistrate concerned having jurisdiction and the same is mandatory in nature as prescribed under Section 102 (3) Cr.P.C. but in the instant case, the Investigating Officer has not reported the seizure/debit freezing of the petitioners’ account to the Magistrate concerned having jurisdiction, hence the impugned action to freeze the debit account of the petitioners is contrary to the provisions of Section 102 (3) Cr.P.C., hence the entire proceeding initiated against the petitioners is liable to be quashed.

Per contra, Additional Government Advocate argued that the question as to whether Section 102 (3) Cr.P.C. is mandatory or directory, has already been decided by a Coordinate Bench of this Court at Allahabad in Criminal Misc. Writ Petition No. 11201 of 2021 : Amit Singh Vs. State of U.P. and others, decided on 18.04.2022, wherein while observing that Section 102 (3) Cr.P.C. is not mandatory but it is directory, the Co-ordinate Bench of the High Court dismissed the petition.

The Division Bench of Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Saroj Yadav observed that non-reporting of the seizure forthwith, as provided under Section 102 (3) Cr.P.C., shall not ipso facto render the seizure illegal particularly as no period is specified and it’s consequences have not been provided. Thus the instant writ petition is also liable to be dismissed.

Amit Singh v. State Of U.P. And 3 Others 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 207,

“(22) The bank account of the petitioner has been got freezed in exercise of powers given under Section 102 Cr.P.C. and the Code of Criminal Procedure restricts the release of such bank account only to an order passed by the Magistrate, which is not the case here. The provisions of the Code thus cannot be by-passed on the plea that Article 300-A of Constitution of India is violated. Merely because the freezing of bank account is not reported forthwith and reported only on an application moved by the petitioner, it cannot be said that there is infringement of right of property given under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India. The plea of the petitioner in this regard is misconceived and not sustainable. The writ petition consequently lacks merit and is dismissed. No order is passed as to costs”

Keeping in mind the aforesaid judgment and order dated 18.04.2022 (supra) and also considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court is in full agreement with the view expressed by the Co-ordinate Bench of the Court at Allahabad vide judgment and order dated 18.04.2022 passed in the case of Amit Singh Vs. State of U.P. and others and therefore the High Court dismissed the Petition.

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