Wednesday 26 January 2022
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Sushant case-related bank account freezing illegal: Court

The court said the police had to, under the CrPC, report bank account seizures to the magistrate, which it did not do with those accused in the Sushant case

A special court ordered the de-freezing of the accounts of two accused in the drugs case filed after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput this week. The bank accounts were illegally seized through the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the court said.

The two accused in the Sushant death case, Jai Madhok and Zaid Vilatra, had filed separate applications before the special court, pleading that the NCB had attached their bank accounts, which was making their sustenance difficult.

Madhok’s petition stated that he had accounts in two banks. The banks had informed him in October 2021 that he had been debarred from making all kinds of transactions using the accounts.

The petition stated that there was no allegation that the accounts had income from the alleged offence (his narcotic link with Sushant). Madhok said that the investigating officer had not informed the magistrate about the freezing as required under Section 102 of the CrPC.

The NCB, through its special public prosecutor (SPP), opposed the petition, saying that its investigation was still on. The court said that under the CrPC, a police officer had to report the seizure to the magistrate.

Additional Sessions Judge DB Mane, in his order, observed, “In the absence of such report, the act of the inquiry officer is held to be illegal. Though the learned SPP filed the reply, the reply is silent on the point of compliance of Sub-Section 3 of Section 102 of the CrPC.”

The judge allowed the de-freezing of the two bank accounts, directing Madhok to file an affidavit, stating that he would make available the balance amount in the accounts to the court for passing necessary orders during the pendency of the Sushant case. He asked the zone unit of the NCB in Mumbai to issue necessary letters to the banks concerned.

The court provided similar to Vilatra, who had pleaded his bank account had been seized without following due process. This man, another accused in the Sushant case,had submitted that the amount was part of profits from his restaurant business and had nothing to do with the alleged sale of contraband. The freezing of the account made it difficult for him to meet his daily expenses, he submitted. The court observed that the NCB had not filed a complaint in Vilatra’s case either by reporting the seizure to the magistrate.

In November, the court had allowed de-freezing of bank accounts of actress Rhea Chakraborty, another accused in the Sushant case, following her petition contending that her bank accounts’ confiscation was a grave injustice to her as she had to pay her employees. She had pleaded she also had to settle her tax liabilities using the money in the accounts.

The court this week accepted the application of another accused who had asked for the return of his phone. It granted yet another accused permission to travel abroad, observing that the investigation against him was over and a charge sheet had been filed.

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