27 August 2020

Magistrate has powers u/s.451 and 457 of Cr.P.C. to order de-freezing of bank account seized by police

Questions may often arise as to the legal remedy which a person can resort to, upon being aggrieved by the seizure of his bank account which reveals no nexus with the alleged offence.

Magistrate has powers u/s.451 and 457 of Cr.P.C. to order de-freezing of bank account seized by police
In case the seizure is illegal and the account freezed lacked direct link with the offences alleged, the legal remedy open to the aggrieved is to approach the concerned Magistrate under Section 451 or 457 of the CrPC as the case may be, and seek to get the account de-freezed. But if the freezing is per se contrary to the provisions of law and could be assailed as illegal without reference to factual disputes involved in the matter, nothing precludes the affected person from approaching this Court for appropriate relief.[Para No.23]

    If a Police Officer wants to depart from the normal procedure of getting a warrant or such permission from the concerned Magistrate, he must then have to draw a search memorandum in writing containing sufficient grounds for his belief as to how the assets in the account are associated with the alleged offences and also as to how an emergent freezing of account would be justified in the circumstances of the case on hand. He must forward the same to the nearest Magistrate forthwith as required under Section 165(5). If there is breach in this respect, it is to be considered as being irregular than illegal. All that the Magistrate has to decide on the motion made for defreezing of the account is whether the seizure complained of is illegal and the account did have any direct/close nexus or link with the offences in question. In other words, despite there could be complaint of irregularity in the matter of seizure also, once the Magistrate is satisfied that the account seized nevertheless has got direct or close link with the offences in question, then it is not a case where the account could be ordered to be de-freezed at the request of the aggrieved. This will not, however, preclude the Magistrate from reporting the violation if any, committed by the erring Police Officer, to his departmental head for initiating necessary disciplinary action.[Para No.24]

Kerala High Court

The Sub Inspector Of Police Marayamuttam

Decided on 26/08/2020

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