When a person is accused of misappropriation of funds, the police may be authorised to recover the amount from him during the criminal investigation. However this amount can only be recovered from the accused himself and not his parents or relatives. This was held in the judgement passed by a bench consisting of Justice Ali Magrey of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir in the case of Sheikh Mohammad Aslam & Anr. v Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir [CRM(M) No. 161/2021 CrlM No. 537/2021] pronounced on the 14th of June 2021.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police seized an amount of Rs. 9,00,000 from the possession of the petitioners during a search of their house. The petitioners, Sheikh Mohammad Aslam and his wife were not named as accused in the First Information Report; however they are the parents of the accused who has allegedly misappropriated money by accepting advance payments made to him which were against the norm. The petitioners submitted before the court that the seized money was their life savings and that the job of the police was to investigate the alleged offence and not to seize money from people who played no role in the commission of the alleged offence. As a result of this, the petitioners pleaded before the court to direct the release of Rs. 9,00,000 seized from them and to quash an order passed on 14th May 2021 by the Special Anti-Corruption Judge, Srinagar which rejected the same prayer of the petitioners.
The respondents argued that they were authorised to recover an amount of Rs 11,00,000 from the accused person, however conceded that the petitioners were not accused of any offences. The High Court noted that an amount recoverable from the accused son in a criminal investigation cannot be recovered from his elderly parents by seizing the amount from their house and that therefore the seizure was not justified.
Justice Ali Magrey can be quoted as saying “On the strength of the pleadings as discussed above and the reference of law, it is manifestly clear that no further purpose can be achieved by retaining the seized amount by the prosecution and to the understanding of the Court, the purpose is solved after taking the details of the denominations of the seized amount and the claim made by the petitioners as owner of the property”.