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  • In Kaiser Ahmad Sheikh and anr vs SHO P/S Crime Branch Kashmir the Hon’ble HC of Kashmir and Ladakh has observed that the bank account of any of the relations of the accused falls within the definition of property within the meaning of section 102 of CrPC.
  • The Court went on to observe that the police officer investigating the case can seize or prohibit the operation of the account in question if the same is directly linked with the commission of the offence which is under investigation.
  • In the instant case, the petitioners Kaiser Ahmed and Bashir Ahmed War were the employees of the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC) and during the enquiry they were found to have committed an offence under sections 420, 120B, 468 and section 5(2)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and consequently, a case was registered.
  • During the course of the investigation, the bank accounts pertaining to the petitioners and their spouses were frozen after observing certain suspicious credits into the same. The petitioners appealed in the Court of the Special Judge but the same was rejected. Hence, they approached the HC. The primary contention that was raised by the appellants/petitioners was that the spouses Neelofar Jan and Ishrat Ara were not employed with the JKPCC but were government teachers and their bank accounts were seized without any rhyme or reason.
  • It was also contended by the petitioners that by freezing their accounts, the respondents have deprived them of their source of funds, which in turn has affected their source of livelihood. The Special Judge had failed to consider the clarifications that were presented by them regarding the banking transactions.
  • The Court observed that on a bare perusal of section 102 CrPC, it is clear that the police officer, during the investigation of the case has the power to seize any property which may be alleged or suspected to be a stolen property, or which may be found under the circumstances of the case to create the suspicion of the commission of an offence.
  • The Court also observed that in order to investigate the serious allegations and to ascertain the destination of the money supposed to have been pilfered from the State exchequer, it was essential for the investigating agency to analyse the bank accounts and of officers and the officials who were at the helm of the affairs at the relevant times including the accounts of their kith and kin. It was for this purpose that the seizure of their bank accounts were absolutely essential.
  • The question whether the bank accounts of the spouse of the suspected person could be seized came up for consideration of the Apex Court in the case of State of Maharashtra vs Tapas D. Neogy (1999) SCC wherein it was held that the bank account of the accused or any of his relations constitutes property within the meaning of section 102 of CrPC and the police officer in the course of the investigation can seize the operation of the said account if the assets have a direct link with the commission of the offence being investigated by the police officer.
  • In light of the above and looking into the facts of the case at hand, the petitions were dismissed by the Hon’ble HC. In light of the case of Neelofar Abass vs State of J&K and ors (2020) it was left open to the petitioners to approach the investigating agency who would look into the defence put forth regarding the suspicious transactions, and a decision regarding the defreezing of the accounts would be taken up by the investigating agency itself, in accordance with law.
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