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For pronouncing a person as ‘proclaimed person’, the court has to record its satisfaction that the accused has absconded or is concealing himself: High Court of Delhi

The issuance of process under Section 82 Cr.P.C. and pronouncing a person as ‘proclaimed person’ or PO entail serious consequences, including not only deprivation of personal liberty of a person, but also attachment of properties. Therefore, any order to that effect must reflect satisfaction of the Court that the person concerned has absconded or is concealing himself to avoid the process of law and the same was upheld by High Court of Delhi through the learned bench led by JUSTICE MANOJ KUMAR OHRI in the case of MOHD. IMRAN vs. STATE (GOVT. OF NCT OF DELHI) [CRL. M.A. 4511/2021] on 29.03.2022.

The facts of the case are that FIR was registered on the complaint of one Noor Ahmad/complainant, wherein it was stated that he was bequeathed the stated property by his father. One Atique Ahmad, i.e. brother of the complainant, was permitted by him to reside on the first floor of the property, while he himself visited the same from time and time. On one such visit, the complainant found the property occupied by the petitioner and others, whom he knew from before, and his belongings/valuables missing.

On the complainant making enquiry, the said persons, including the petitioner, extended threats for life. Soon after, Atique Ahmad arrived at the spot. He claimed that he had sold the property to co-accused i.e. Altamash and ousted the complainant. Later, it came to light that Atique Ahmad had forged the signatures of the petitioner’s father on documents relating to the property and sold the same to Altamash and others. The petitioner was admitted to bail in the present case by the learned Metropolitan Magistrate.

The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that in the present case, the process under Section 82 Cr.P.C. was issued against the petitioner at wrong address. It was further submitted that the impugned order suffers from the vice of non-application of mind, as the concerned Court failed to record any reason for believing that the petitioner was intentionally avoiding service and issued proclamation without following due procedure. It was stressed that the procedure outlined under Section 82 Cr.P.C. having not been duly followed, the proclamation issued was bad in law. It was also argued that in terms of Section 82(4) Cr.P.C, the petitioner could have been pronounced only a ‘proclaimed person’ but not PO.

The court held that the impugned order reflects non-application of mind by the learned Judge, as the petitioner is not accused of any of the offences punishable under Sections enumerated in Section 82(4) Cr.P.C., could only have been pronounced a ‘proclaimed person’ if the process did not otherwise stand vitiated but the petitioner is stated to be regularly appearing before the Trial Court. It was observed that “the issuance of process under Section 82 Cr.P.C. and pronouncing a person as ‘proclaimed person’ or PO entail serious consequences, including not only deprivation of personal liberty of a person, but also attachment of properties and initiation of proceedings under Section 174A IPC against such person. Therefore, any order to that effect must reflect satisfaction of the Court that the person concerned has absconded or is concealing himself to avoid the process of law.”

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Judgment reviewed by – Shristi Suman

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