Police have no authority to seize and attach immovable property during the investigation of a criminal case, the Supreme Court ruled today, in a case relating to powers of the police with respect to the seizure of property during the course of a probe. However, the top court did also concede that moveable property could be seized and attached.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had been called on to interpret Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) after a majority judgement of the Bombay High Court was challenged by the Maharashtra government.
The three-judge Supreme Court bench, which included Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, upheld the High Court's verdict. Each judge wrote separate but concurring opinions.
The Maharashtra government had argued police could seize bank accounts as long as they were frozen immediately. The state referred to the top court's judgement in a 1999 case involving corruption charges levelled by it against Tapas D Neogy, a town planner working for the Union Territory of Daman and Diu.
In that judgment, a two-judge bench said it had been persuaded that bank accounts could be understood as "property", under Section 102, and the police could, during an investigation, seize it so long as it had "direct links with the commission of the offence".
However, in this current matter the Supreme Court disagreed with the state's submissions, saying there might be misuse of power by the police.
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