The test laid down by the Court for discontinuing with LOC opened against a party is that he neither deliberately evades arrest nor fails to appear before the Trial Court despite the non-bailable warrants nor has any coercive action been taken against him. These were stated by High Court of Delhi through the learned bench led by Justice Mukta Gupta in the case of Shri Sathish Babu Sana vs. Central Bureau of Investigation [W.P.(CRL) 249/2019] on 28.01.2022.
The facts of the case are that a complainant was lodged by the CBI against four accused namely Moin Akhtar Qureshi, Aditya Sharma, Pradeep Koneru and A.P. Singh and other unknown persons/public servants. The petitioner was not named in the RC however, was summoned as witness number of times. The lookout circular (LOC) qua the two named accused in the FIR, i.e. Moin Akhtar Qureshi and Pradeep Koneru was quashed by the Court however, it subsisted qua the petitioner.
The petitioner for the purpose of his business used to often travel overseas. Between October, 2017 to October, 2018 the petitioner joined the investigation with the respondent approximately 9-10 times however, when he was at the immigration at Hyderabad Airport on 25th September, 2019 he was stopped because a LOC had been opened against him.
The petitioner’s counsel contended that a complainant in FIR was lodged by the CBI despite the fact that the petitioner was a victim. The LOC was opened in a most casual manner without following the principles of law laid down by this Court. It was further contended that even if the petitioner is required for investigation, the same does not permit the investigating agency to destroy the personal freedom of a citizen.
The respondent’s counsel contended that the arguments of the learned counsel for the petitioner states that even though no charge-sheet has been filed however, the petitioner is required for the purpose of investigation. It was submitted that no prejudice has been caused to the petitioner due to the LOC, as the petitioner has travelled abroad after seeking necessary permission from the competent Court. It is further stated that the LOC of the two named accused Moin Akhtar Qureshi and Pradeep Koneru was quashed subject to stringent conditions.
Considering the facts and circumstances, the petition was dismissed as the plaintiff neither deliberately evaded arrest nor failed to appear before the Trial Court despite the non-bailable warrants nor has any coercive action been taken against him and he has travelled abroad number of times with the permission of the Court, which concession he did not misuse. Hence, the respondent was directed to recall its request for opening the LOC against the petitioner. It was observed by the Court, “If the above-noted FIR would have to be conducted together in terms of Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, then petitioner would be bound to seek permission before travelling abroad”.
Judgment reviewed by – Shristi Suman