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Name of the Case

Ratan Babulal Lath v. The State of Karnataka

Key Takeaways

  • The accused were charged under several provisions of the IPC and PC Act and their bank account accounts were seized.
  • They approached the Court challenging its sustainability under Section 102 of CrPC.
  • The Court set aside the freezing stating that PC Act is a Code in itself and the 1944 Ordinance would apply for provisions of the PC Act.

Background

  • 14 accused persons were accused of large scale fraud of Rs. 56.37 Crores in connivance with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials and private individuals.
  • A chargesheet was filed against them for offences under several Sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • The accused filed applications seeking to defreeze their bank accounts under Section 102 of CrPC which was rejected by the Addl. City Civil and Sessions Judge and also by the High Court.
  • The State had submitted that since the earlier authorisation provided by the Government under Section 3 of the 1944 Ordinance was not in the form of a Government Order, they were in the process of making an application under Section 18 A of the PC Act.

Grounds of Challenge

High Court:

  • The allegations prima facie do not show any loss to the State or the BBMP due to the transaction.
  • The proper formalities for seizing the accounts had not been followed by the investigating officer.

Supreme Court

  • Whether the appellant’s bank account could be attached in the exercise of powers under Section 102 Cr.P.C.

Court’s Observation

  • The freezing of the appellant’s bank account under Section 102 CrPC cannot be upheld since the Prevention of Corruption Act is a Code in itself.
  • Section 102 of CrPC gives police officer the power to seize any property that is suspected to have been stolen or found under circumstances which indicate towards an offence.
  • The provisions of the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944, would apply to the attachment, administration of attached property, and execution of order of attachment or confiscation of money or property obtained by means of an offence under the PC Act, according to Section 18A of the Act.
  • The Court set aside the freezing of the bank account.

Do you think the seizure was justified? Should the Court have taken any other approach?

Tell us in the comments section below!

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