Register to get Live Demo
2023 (9) TMI 702 - CALCUTTA HIGH COURT
Validity of Look-Out Circulars (LOC) issued - cognizable offences or not - curtailing a person's fundamental right to travel under Article 21 - HELD THAT:- Sub-section (6) of Section 212 provides that notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, an offence covered under section 447 of the 2013 Act (which we have also discussed above) shall be cognizable and no person accused of any offence under those sections shall be released on bail or on his own bond unless the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose the application for such release and where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application, the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.
In the present case, as rightly pointed by learned counsel for the petitioners, the stage of investigation within the contemplation of Section 212(1) – (4) of the 2013 Act is not yet over. Thus, as of today, whatever may the allegations against the petitioners or the Company of which they were Directors and guarantors, the same cannot tantamount to a cognizable offence against the petitioners.
Insofar as classification of an account as fraud is concerned, the same was disclosed only subsequently and does not find place in the SFIO request to the Immigration Authority for issuance of LOC.
Whether the high ground of issuance of LOC has been made out at all by the SFIO in its request for issuance of LOC? - HELD THAT:- It has to be kept in mind that the high grounds which are required to be made out for restraining the personal liberty of a person as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and the right of a person to move within the country under Article 19, a necessary corollary of which is the right to travel abroad, have to be on a much elevated footing than mere pendency of an investigation or allegations of financial frauds against the concerned person - mere paranoia of the authorities whenever a person against whom allegations are levelled seeks to leave the country cannot be sufficient for issuance of LOCs and curtailing the person‟s personal liberty to travel abroad.
No ground has been made out for issuance of LOC against the petitioners and/or restricting them from travelling abroad. - Petition allowed.