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1) Bank Account Of Any Relative Of The Accused Can Be Seized U/S 102 CrPC: Kashmir And Ladakh HC

  • 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.

2) Furlough Cannot Be Denied To Life Imprisonment Convict: SC

  • A bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Aniruddha Bose observed in Atbir v State of NCT of Delhi that furlough could not be refused to the convict who has been sentenced to imprisonment for the whole of his natural life without remission and such a prisoner cannot be denied the right that he exuded from good conduct in prison.
  • Furlough refers to a set period of time when a prisoner is allowed to leave prison. This concept is based on incentive bases for good conduct in prison. However, it is different from parole in which the days spent outside the prison are being counted and added to the prison time.
  • The appellant, in the instant case, serving imprisonment for the whole of his natural life after getting the death sentence pardoned by the Hon’ble President of India had filed an appeal before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court for granting furlough. The Single Judge dismissed his writ petition.
  • The reason behind the rejection of the appeal for granting furlough was that the Hon’ble President of India, on mercy petition, had modified the death sentence to imprisonment for the whole of his natural life without parole and no remission of the imprisonment term.
  • The appellant contended that there existed no debarment concerning his entitlement to furlough under the Delhi Prison Rule,2018.

Background of the Case

  • The appellant was charged u/s 302, IPC, 1860 for brutally killing his stepmother, stepbrother, and stepsister with multiple knife blows on vital parts of all three people. The court of Additional Sessions Judge, Delhi convicted the appellant of the offense and awarded the death sentence. Subsequently, the case went to High Court and the decision of the Additional Session Judge was upheld and the case was considered as ‘rarest of the rare’.
  • After dismissal of the review and curative petition by the concerned Court, the appellant filed a petition under Article 72 of the Constitution of India invoking the powers of the Hon’ble President to grant a pardon. The Hon'ble President accepted the recommendation of the Ministry of Home Affairs to modify the death sentence to imprisonment to the whole of natural life without parole and no remission of the term of the imprisonment.
  • The counsel for the petitioner’s side argued that by referring to Chandra Kant Jha V State of NCT of Delhi, the High Court has viewed the case from a wrong angle and declined the appeal for furlough. The High Court has misconstrued the order passed by the President as they are contrary to fundamental principles that govern the entitlement of furlough to a prisoner.
  • In Chandra Kant's case, it was affirmed by the Court when a remission of the substantive sentence is granted u/s 432 then only it is credited to earn remission and not otherwise. The learned counsel submitted that a premature release is not a precondition for entitlement of furlough by a prisoner. Hence, the entitlement to furlough is different from getting remission.
  • Counsel had also placed copies of certificates issued to the appellant for good conduct.
  • The Counsel for the respondent alleged that furlough is the reduction in the sentence of a prisoner which amounts to remission of sentence and this reduction is simply not permissible in this case because he had been granted a pardon by the president without parole and remission The period of furlough is deducted from the sentence unless the convict commits an offense while on furlough; and such deduction being not permissible, the appellant would not be entitled to be granted furlough. Further, it was contended that merely 3 good conduct reports don't amount to the entitlement of furlough.
  • The Court observed that furlough cannot be denied as it takes away the incentive for good conduct in the prison that would not only be counter-productive but would be an antithesis to the reformative approach to the Rule of 2018. It was also held that the ‘ Annual good conduct report’ should not be confused with ‘ Annual good conduct remission’.
  • Thus, the Court disapproved of the denial of furlough.
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