Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Supreme court: Government official’s illegal assets can not be attached if he’s dead

NEW DELHI: Disproportionate assets amassed by a government official cannot be attached from his family members if the officer dies during pendency of trial against him, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

Terming the orders of a trial court and the Andhra Pradesh high court allowing attachment of assets of a government official after his death a "gross miscarriage of justice", a bench of Justices S A Bobde and Amitava Roy said no proceedings could be allowed against a dead man.

The bench also slammed the trial court for convicting the accused, Ramachandraiah, for misappropriating Rs 657,355, two years after his death. The attachment order was passed on the basis of the conviction order and the HC also approved the attachment proceedings.

"There is no legal provision which enables continuance of prosecution upon death of the accused. We must record that the proceedings and the decisions of the courts below are disturbing, to say the least. In the first place, though the accused had died, the trial court proceeded with the trial and recorded a conviction two years after his death," the bench said.

"Then, this null and void conviction was used as a basis for making an attachment of his properties before the sessions court. Astonishingly, all applications succeeded, the attachment was made absolute and, over and above all, the HC upheld the attachment," it added. The court passed the order on a petition filed by Ramachandraiah's family members contending that the lower court and the HC erred in directing the attachment. They said the conviction, on the basis of which the attachment order was passed, was itself illegal as the court could not convict a dead person.

attachment and told the bench that the Criminal Procedure Code did not bar government agencies from attaching properties of an accused in case of abatement of proceedings due to death of the accused.

The SC, however, was not satisfied with its contention and said: "If the law requires that the orders of attachment should be withdrawn upon acquittal, it stands to reason that such orders must be withdrawn when the prosecution abates or cannot result in a conviction due to the death of the accused, whose property is attached.
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