Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Monday directed the police to proceed in accordance with law after hearing the side of a woman medical officer whose salary account has been frozen by authorities on account of her husband’s alleged involvement in forgery and criminal conspiracy.
Justice Rajnesh Oswal directed the woman medical officer to argue her claim before the Investigating Officer in FIR No.2/2020 that the amount lying in her account No. SB/8456 maintained with J&K Bank Branch Bagati Barzulla Srinagar “is the amount earned as salary from her employer”.
“The Investigating Officer shall proceed in accordance with law,” Justice Oswal ordered.
Earlier, the petitioner had argued that her salary account be de-freezed as she is nowhere related to FIR No.02/2020 wherein her husband who served as Deputy General Manager of JKPCC, Kupwara, is alleged to have been involved in awarding contracts in violation of standing operating procedures.
The Crime Branch Kashmir in a status report had stated that it had received a communication from
the General Administration Department, Jammu and Kashmir, dated 03 April, 2019, to enquire into all the works executed by the JKPCC after issuance of the Government order No. 308 of 2015 dated 21 January 2015 to identify irregularities in the award of contracts in violation of the prescribed standing operating procedure(s).
The Crime Branch stated in its report: “It was pursuant to the fact finding report submitted by the committee headed by a Principal Secretary to Government, Planning and Monitoring Department, on the basis of which PV No. 51/2019 was initiated at Crime Branch Kashmir that culminated into the registration of FIR No. 2/2020 for commission of offences under sections 468, 471 and 120-B RPC read with 5(2)P.C. Act.
“During the course of investigation, house searches of the suspects were conducted at different locations including the house of the then Deputy Chief Manager of the JKPCC Kupwara, namely, Mohd. Abbas Lone, husband of the petitioner as per the mandate of law.
“During search, incriminating material and documents related with property, gold coins and account numbers maintained in different Banks were recovered and subsequently suspected bank accounts were frozen to ascertain the mode of acquisition of both moveable/immoveable property.
“During the course of investigation, bank accounts statements of the alleged accused (Mohd. Abbas Lone) and his spouse were perused and huge transactions were found carried out during different years.
“Further, it has been found that an amount of Rs. 68.98 lakhs (CCRs and saving accounts) were found present in the bank accounts of Mohd. Abbas Lone in different branches of J&K Bank. Further perusal of the bank accounts statements maintained by the petitioner, it has been found that an amount of Rs 98.55 lakhs (CCRs and saving accounts) was present in the bank accounts of the petitioner.
“To unearth the possible hidden assets created out from the illegal gratification, questionnaires were served to the accused, Mohd. Abbas Lone and his wife to submit all the property related documents (both immovable/movable) acquired during the period before the Investigating Officer which has not been furnished till date.”
The court said, “it is to be seen whether the Bank account of one spouse can be frozen when the matter under investigation pertains to the other spouse.”
While giving reference to Supreme Court judgements, Justice Rajnesh Oswal held that the bank account of the accused as well as his spouse falls within the definition of the “property” under section 102 Cr.P.C and can be validly frozen during the course of investigation, if the circumstances exist creating suspicion regarding commission of any offence.
The court recorded that there are serious allegations and investigation is still going on.
Justice Oswal noted that to be fair to the petitioner and her husband, the questionnaires have been issued to them by the Investigating Officer but those have been not replied by the petitioner as well as her husband.
“The petitioner has an option to demonstrate before Investigating officer that the money lying in her account is the remuneration earned by her from her employer. The Investigating Officer may de-freeze her account if her contentions are found to be genuine,” the court directed.