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Can a Police Officer Seize any Property in the Course of an Investigation

Introduction:

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 provides section 102 as follows:

Power of police officer to seize some property:

(1)  Any police officer who is competent to seize under the Act can seize any property which may be suspected or alleged to have stolen or found under circumstances which create suspicion of the commission of any crime or offence.

(2)  If any police other than the officer in charge of the police station seize any property then he must report such seizure to that officer.

(3) 1  Every police officer having jurisdiction should report to the Magistrate which is mentioned under sub-section (1). When the property is seized and it cannot be transported to the court or cannot be provided with safe custody then the police officer may give the property back. But the person should execute a bond and undertake to produce the property before the court when required.”

Claiming of property:

If the police officer seizes any property during the investigation then he should give a receipt and the receipt will declare the items the police officer have in their custody. And police officer may give the property back which are not necessary for their custody and may retain certain property which is required for evidence or for other purposes of the court.

Purpose of seizing the property:

The police have the power to seize the property of any accused person lawfully under four main reasons:-

1.   Safe Keeping.  The police have the power to seize valuable property such as money, jewellery, expensive electronics to provide safe custody of the properties from theft or from other offences.

2.   Forfeiture:   The police officer has the right to seize certain properties because the police officer believes that the property was used or obtained during the commission of a crime. Examples of property which include forfeiture:-

  1. Sum of money that was exchanged for drugs or was used for gambling.
  2. Certain vehicles can be forfeited in a variety of circumstances. 
  3. Cell phones 

3.   Contraband:  Contraband in simple words refers to any property which the police officer has seized because it is a crime to have such things in the first place. These properties include illegal drugs, unlicensed handguns, etc.

3.   Evidence:  A police officer can retain the property of an accused person to form evidence. 

No power to attach immovable property:

The police officer has no power to attach or seize or seal any immovable property in the course of the investigation as held by the Supreme Court of India on 24th September 2019 under section 102 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Conclusion:

A police officer can seize certain properties of any person lawfully. But there are certain conditions where a police officer cannot retain the property of any person. The above body explains section 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and other related topics.

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