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Police Officer has the power to seize any property found under suspicious circumstances. : Orissa High Court

The policeman’s power to seize certain property- Any policeman may confiscate property that may or may be suspected of having been robbed or that could be found in circumstances that may give rise to any criminal suspicion. Such policeman shall report the seizure immediately to that police officer if he is subordinate to the officer in charge of the police station, it was mentioned by Justice P. Patnaik of the Orissa High Court in the matter of Maa Kuanri Transport and Ors. Versus State of Orissa and Ors.[CRLMP Nos.164,165.166.167 & 168 of 2018]

The order was passed for the facts where the petitions submitted for quashing the order of opposite Party 6 to freeze Maa Kuanri Transportation Bank Account, Unchabali, Jagat Janani Services Private Ltd, Nambira, Chaturbhuj Development Committee, Balda, Sri Sanatan Mahakud’s Personal Account, and petitioners for quashing the Commission’s intimation to the petitioner’s company with a revised version of that order. Since from Keonjhar P.S. Case No.12 dated 12 January 2018 all the above-mentioned questions arose, the cases were listened to analogously and resolved by common order and decision.

Case no.12 dated 12.01.2018 registered under Articles 143, 148, 341, 283, 294, 506/20149 of the Indian Penal Code and Article 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 is used to justify the freezing of the aforesaid Bank account. Case no.22 dated 22.01.2018 In the F.I.R. filed on 12 February 2018, at approximately 1.45 pm, the plaintiff Inspector S.Pradhan, I.I.C., Sadar Police Station, Keonjhar, drew a plain F.I.R. document on N.H.20 near Silisuan, which was about 1.15 p.m. on that date. She had been at the spot together with other police staff, receiving information on a huge group of fans of Sana Sena near Railway over a Silisuan bridge, found more than 2000 people gathering in that site armed with lathi and slogans provoking against the police government demanding the abolition of Toll-Plaza in Banajodi led by Sudhi. In trying to intervene, the complainant and police threatened them with dire repercussions, slogans like Sana Sena Zindabad, Prasasana Murdabad Police, etc., and continued to obstruct their road. On 11.12.2017 and 05.01.2018, they also blocked the road on the same matter. Because of the roadblock, there has been the feeling and suspicion that money has been hired to carry on on protracted agitation. She has reliable information about the huge amount of cash that IndusInd Bank is giving Joda to the leaders to continue to be distributed among the agitators. The F.I.R. Keonjhar P.S.Case No.12 dated 12 January 2018 is the basis for the registration of the Indian Penal Code pursuant to Section 143, 148, 341, 283, 294, 506/149 of the Crl. Law Amendment Act 2013.

The learned counsel also argued that section 102 of the Cr.P.C. was not scrupulously followed or attracted since the freezing of the accounts does not have a direct link with the alleged crime and the other party-state did not produce any of the materials, causes of account freezes. To support his claim, the senior lawyer of the petitioners referred to the Karnataka High Court of 2012 Criminal Law Journal 3487. 2017 Vol. (2) OLR 452.

In addition to reiterating the submissions made in the counter-affidavit, the learned Additional Government Advertiser has argued vociferously that this application cannot be maintained because of the decision of Teesta Atul Setalvad (supra). Learned State counsel submits that the Investigating Officer, even in case of suspicion, may freeze its account and the I.O. has given notification to the applicants in accordance with section 102 Cr.P.C. The same has been followed scrupulously as far as Section 102 Cr.P.C. According to the learned State counsel, the petitioners can reach the court of appreciation after completion of the investigation.

Therefore, when the situation was fit, the petitioners should have approached the enquiry officer to de-freeze the account, or if the enquiry officer does not accede to the petitioner’s prayer, they should have approached the learned magistrate openly.

Considering the facts and circumstances in their entirety and on cumulative appreciation of the decision of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Teesta Atul Setalvad (supra). 

While these applications do not apply, the Court considers that it is appropriate that a petitioner approach all accounts in default with the investigating officer or opposite party no. 4. Should either the IO or the opposite party No.4 not accede to the relief sought by the petitioners, the petitioners would be allowed to address the competent magistrate with the appropriate application with the same or identical prayer. However, it is clear that the case raised by the contesters in the above-noted applications has not been examined by this Court.

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