The impugned transaction cannot be prima facie termed as case property or the proceeds of the crime liable to be confiscated or for compensation in case the petitioners are charged and convicted : Delhi High Court

There is no justification to give any narrow interpretation to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. It is well known that corruption in public offices has become so rampant that it has become difficult to cope up with the same. This was held in the judgment passed by a single judge comprising HON’BLE MS. JUSTICE MUKTA GUPTA, in the matter NOVELTY MERCHANTS PRIVATE LIMITED V. CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION & ANR (CRL.M.C. 1372/2021), dealt with an issue where the petitioner filed a petition challenging the impugned order dated 17th May 2021 one filed by the petitioners under Sections 451/457 CrPC and the other filed by the Income Tax Authorities under Section 226(4) of the Income Tax Act 1961 were dismissed, the petitioners prefer the present petition.

A brief factual narration resulting in filing of the two applications by the CBI on a reliable information that certain officials of the National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. (NTPC) entered into a criminal conspiracy with the GRUP VO TECHNOPROMEXPORT RUSSIA and its associate companies in the years 2002 to 2005, in pursuance whereto, in the year 2005 an amount of US$ 20 million was received against illegal kickbacks in the bank account of the petitioner M/s. Ravina & Associates Pvt. Ltd. in U.K. Pursuant to the Letters Rogatory issued, an order was issued freezing the accounts of the two petitioners i.e. RAPL and Ravina Khurana. Initially, the CBI filed a closure report. However, the same was not accepted by the learned trial court, which directed further investigation. Pursuant to the further investigation conducted, CBI filed a charge sheet against M/s. T.P.E. Moscow Russia, Mr.Sergei Mukhin, Mr.Alexander V. Schegolev representative Director of M/s. T.P.E. and the petitioners herein under Section 420 read with 120B IPC.

No officer of the NTPC was found involved and no charge sheet for offence punishable under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act was filed. No cognizance on the report filed by the CBI after carrying out further investigation has been taken by the learned Special Judge which has directed the CBI to conduct further investigation, which order of the learned Special Judge has been challenged by the CBI before this Court as the case of CBI is that it has carried out the investigation.

According to the Income Tax Department, since the petitioners were maintaining accounts with National WestMinister Bank, London which has been frozen by the order of the Special Court and could not be operated, the Income Tax Department sought recovery of the outstanding tax demand from the amounts lying deposited.

After hearing both the parties The Hon’ble Delhi High Court dismissed the petition and held that the bank account of the accused or any of his relations is “property” within the meaning of Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code and a police officer in course of investigation can seize or prohibit the operation of the said account if such assets have direct links with the commission of the offence for which the police officer is investigating into. It also held that TPE to RAPL in the NatWest Bank, London account, in relation to the impugned transaction are mentioned in entries 2 and 3 above, totalling to a sum of USD 2,15,71,843.90. However, the amount which was frozen and received in India is beyond the amount in relation to impugned transaction with TPE. Consequently the learned Special Judge was directed to retain the amount received in lieu of the frozen amount of USD 2,15,71,843.90 along with the interest accrued thereon from the date of receipt till date and transfer the balance amount along with the interest accrued thereon received in the account at SBI, Tees Hazari, to the income-tax department.

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