Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SC: Property of petty criminals can’t be seized

SC: Property of petty criminals can’t be seized
‘CrPC Provision Applies Only To Terrorists &  amp; Smugglers’

New Delhi: Petty criminals who acquire property from the proceeds of their illegal profession can breathe easy. For, the Supreme Court has said that police cannot invoke provisions of Criminal Procedure Code to confiscate the property of small-time criminals.
Referring to the provisions under Chapter VIIA of the code, a Bench comprising Justices V S Sirpurkar and S S Nijjar agreed with a Madhya Pradesh High Court ruling that this chapter was incorporated with the intention to curb mischief or completely eliminate terrorist activities and international crimes and would not apply to general offences.
The question about invocation of Chapter VII provisions for confiscation of property of petty criminals came in a case before Itarsi judicial magistrate, where the SHO concerned moved an application for taking over the property of Balram Mihani and others alleging that these were acquired from criminal activities. The HC had quashed the proceedings saying the confiscation provisions did not apply to local offences. MP government challenged it before the SC.
Referring to the applicability of Chapter VIIA provisions relating to international crossborder crimes, the apex court said, “It is clear that the whole chapter is relating to specific offences and has nothing to do with local offences or properties earned out of these.”
Writing the judgment for the Bench, Justice Sirpurkar said, “Chapter VIIA is one such measure to introduce stringent measures for attachment and forfeiture of properties earned by offences, by way of special arrangement in the contracting countries. However, if we accept the state’s contention that the provisions of Chapter VIIA are for all and sundry offences in India, it would be illogical.”
The Bench added, “Lastly, we cannot ignore the likely misuse of the provisions of Chapter VIIA if the whole chapter is made applicable to local offences generally. Such does not appear to be the intent of the legislature in introducing Chapter VIIA.”

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