Law Insider India

Legal News, Current Trends and Legal Insight | Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Kerala HC Stresses the Need for a Fair Trial, Rejects Deprivation Based on Mere Accusations

2 min read
Kerala HC Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: October 26, 2023 at 15:15 IST

The Kerala High Court has emphasized that depriving a person of their possessions or funds solely based on accusations that are yet to be proven through a trial’s fact-finding mechanism is unjustifiable.

In a recent case, the court made it clear that the primary objective in such situations is to preserve the seized items during the investigation, rather than benefiting any party or unjustly depriving someone.

To achieve a balanced approach, the court must consider the rights and interests of both parties, namely, the State and the accused, in equal measure.

The case in question involved a politician who was accused of amassing wealth beyond his known and legal sources of income. After a preliminary inquiry, it was found that the petitioner had accumulated wealth exceeding his legitimate income by 166%, leading to a case being registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act. During the investigation, certain documents, gold ornaments, and Indian currency notes were discovered in his house.

The petitioner sought the release of the seized currency notes under Section 451 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure). However, this application was initially rejected due to objections raised by the second respondent.

The petitioner’s explanation that the money was contributed by the general public for election expenses was found inconsistent with the expenses he had declared to the Election Commission.

Moreover, it was noted that the petitioner had not filed an income tax return until the financial year 2015-2016 but had subsequently submitted returns, including the questioned amount, and paid a significant income tax amount.

The court stressed that the purpose of the order under Section 451 CrPC is to establish a provisional arrangement for the interim custody of the seized items during the trial’s pendency.

The court referred to previous judgments and stated that it is unnecessary to retain the articles in the court’s custody for an extended period. Instead, the court should take a cautious approach to ensure that safeguards are in place to recover the articles or funds when necessary.

In the interest of preserving the allegedly disproportionate wealth acquired by the petitioner, the High Court granted the petitioner’s request for the release of the seized amount, subject to the condition that the petitioner execute a bond for the said amount with two solvent sureties and provide a bank guarantee. This decision underscores the importance of a fair and balanced approach in such cases.