SUPREME COURT: PAY MARKET VALUE TO RELEASE SEIZED ILLEGAL PROPERTY

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The Supreme Court has held that the property confiscated or seized during investigation could be released only by paying the current market vale of the illegally acquired property.

An executive engineer from Andra Pradesh N Naveen Kumar was convicted by the Principal Special Judge, Hyderabad under the Prevention of Corruption Act for acquiring assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and was sentenced to 1 year simple imprisonment with a fine of Rs 20,000.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau seized four properties including a house and the Special Judge directed a public auction of the assets and sale proceeds shall go to the state.

The Andra Pradesh High Court dismissed the appeal but the appellant died during the pendency of his appeal.

The legal heir of the deceased sought the permission of the High Court to deposit the entire value of the assets amounting to Rs 6,37,850 at the time of the attachment of the property.

The High Court, however, dismissed the application holding that it is the current market vale of the assets which was relevant and not the value of the property which was at the time of seizure. The court also held that under Section 482 of CrPC it cannot review its own judgement.

A Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and P Sathasivam while dismissing the appeal of the legal heir noted, ‘the High Court has rightly noted that it is the present vale of properties which is of relevance and not the vale of the assets at the time of seizure.’ ‘We find no substance in the plea of the appellant as canvassed in this appeal. It is open to the appellant to participate in the auction for the sale of the properties in question as and when held".

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