The Karnataka High Court recently ordered that a person's bank accounts be defreezed after noting that the freezing of the bank accounts was not reported by the authorities to the jurisdictional Magistrate [Narayan Yadav v. the State of Karnataka].
While allowing the petition by one Narayan Yadav, Justice Mohammed Nawaz of the High Court observed that such freezing of accounts would adversely affect the right to life of the petitioner under Article 21 of the Constitution.
It is the contention that the freezing of the bank account of the petitioner was not reported forthwith to the Jurisdictional Magistrate, which is mandatory. It is not in dispute that all the four bank accounts of the petitioner have been frozen by virtue of the notice issued by the Investigating Officer. The court said in its order that certainly such freezing of account would adversely affect his right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Court, therefore, ordered the State government to direct Axis Bank manager, where the petitioner holds accounts, to defreeze the same subject to the petitioner offering a bank guarantee of ?3.7 lakh. The case had its genesis in an email received by the complainant on May 27, 2020, stating that she had won a ?48 crore lottery. The mail stated that to transfer the said amount, she has to log in to a certain user ID.
After doing as directed, she entered the password and the user name provided and filled up all the information required. Later on, she was asked to deposit a total of ?3,73,899 to a few account numbers provided. Thereafter, no amount was transferred to her as promised and she was created by some unknown persons. On investigation, it was found that the amount was transferred to the petitioner's bank account. As a result, all the four bank accounts of the petitioner were frozen. The petitioner moved the High Court challenging the same. Advocates S Manoj Kumar and Advocate Anilkumar appearing for the petitioners submitted that the petitioner is running a Chain Electronics Stores in Delhi and is nowhere involved in the crime that has been alleged.
It was stated that proceeds of the petitioner's business are transferred to the account which has now been frozen and thus, he is unable to make ends meet and his livelihood has been severely affected. It was further contended that section 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was not followed. Freezing the petitioner's account, without following due procedure is wholly arbitrary and violative of Article 21, said the petitioner.
On the other hand, the Government Pleader argued that the statement of accounts clearly disclosed that the disputed amount was deposited in the account belonging to the petitioner and therefore, it was necessary for the investigating agency to freeze the same.It was submitted that there is nexus between the accused, petitioner and the fraud committed against the complainant and therefore, the petition be dismissed. The Court, after appreciating the rival submissions, proceeded to allow the petition, while directing the petitioner to be available for the purpose of investigation, whenever required. The order said that hence, to meet the ends of Justice, respondent no. 1 (State government) is directed to intimate the concerned banks to defreeze the accounts, provided the petitioner offering a bank guarantee for a sum of Rs 3,73,899.