a police officer investigating a criminal case cannot take custody of and seize any immovable property =It would also be pertinent to mention that the power of attachment and forfeiture is given to courts and not to police officer. As pointed out in the judgment of my learned brother, if a police officer is given the power to seize immovable property it may lead to an absolutely chaotic situation. To give an example, if there is a physical fight between the landlord and the tenant over the rented premises and if the version of the appellant is to be accepted, the police official would be entitled to seize the tenanted property. This would make a mockery of rent laws. To give another example, if a person forges a will and thereby claims property on the basis of the forged will, can the police officer be the power to seize the entire property, both movable and immovable, that may be mentioned in the will? The answer has to be in the negative. Otherwise it would lead to an absurd situation which could never have been envisaged by the Legislature. The power of seizure in Section 102 has to be limited to movable property.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1481 OF 2019
(ARISING OUT OF SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 1513 OF 2011)
NEVADA PROPERTIES PRIVATE LIMITED
THROUGH ITS DIRECTORS ….. APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
STATE OF MAHARASHTRA AND ANOTHER ….. RESPONDENT(S)
W I T H
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1122 OF 2011
CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1482-1485 OF 2019
(ARISING OUT OF SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NOS.891-894 OF 2011)
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1486 OF 2019
(ARISING OUT OF SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 4360 OF 2011)
A N D
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1487 OF 2019
(ARISING OUT OF SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 3958 OF 2013)
Criminal Appeal arising out of
SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 1 of 39
J U D G M E N T
SANJIV KHANNA, J.
Leave granted in Special Leave Petitions.

  1. A Division Bench of this Court (Jagdish Singh Khehar and Arun
    Mishra, JJ.) vide order dated November 18, 2014, noticing that the
    issues that arise have far reaching and serious consequences,
    had referred the aforesaid appeals to be heard by a Bench of at
    least three Judges. After obtaining appropriate directions from
    Hon’ble the Chief Justice, these appeals have been listed before
    the present Bench.
  2. For the sake of convenience, we have treated the Criminal Appeal
    arising out of Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 1513 of 2011,
    filed by Nevada Properties Pvt. Ltd., as the lead case. This
    appeal arises from judgment of the High Court of Judicature at
    Bombay dated November 29, 2010 wherein the majority judgment
    has held that the expression ‘any property’ used in sub-section (1)
    of Section 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
    (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Code’) does not include immovable
    property and, consequently, a police officer investigating a criminal
    case cannot take custody of and seize any immovable property
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
    SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 2 of 39
    which may be found under circumstances which create suspicion
    of the commission of any offence. According to the majority
    judgment, earlier decision of the Division Bench of the same High
    Court in Kishore Shankar Signapurkar v. State of Maharashtra
    and Others1
    lays down the correct ratio and the contrary view
    expressed in M/s. Bombay Science and Research Education
    Institute v. The State of Maharashtra and Others2 does not lay
    down the correct law. The minority view holds that the police
    officer has power to seize any property, whether movable or
    immovable, under Section 102 of the Code and the decision of the
    Division Bench in M/s. Bombay Science and Research
    Education Institute (supra) lays down the correct law and the
    ratio in Kishore Shankar Signapurkar (supra) is not good law.
  3. In order to decide the present controversy which is primarily legal,
    we would begin by reproducing Section 102 of the Code, which
    reads as under:
    “S.102 Power of police officer to seize certain
    property.
    (1) Any police officer may seize any property which
    may be alleged or suspected to have been stolen, or
    which may be found under circumstances which create
    suspicion of the commission of any offence.
    1 1997 Vol.IV L J 793
    2 2008 All M.R.(Crl.) 2133
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    (2) Such police officer, if subordinate to the office in
    charge of a police station, shall forthwith report the
    seizure to that officer.
    (3) Every police officer acting under sub-section (1)
    shall forthwith report the seizure to the Magistrate
    having jurisdiction and where the property seized is
    such that it cannot be conveniently transported to the
    Court, or where there is difficulty in securing proper
    accommodation for the custody of such property, or
    where the continued retention of the property in police
    custody may not be considered necessary for the
    purpose of investigation, he may give custody thereof
    to any person on his executing a bond undertaking to
    produce the property before the Court as and when
    required and to give effect to the further orders of the
    Court as to the disposal of the same.
    Provided that where the property seized under subsection (1) is subject to speedy and natural decay and
    if the person entitled to the possession of such property
    is unknown or absent and the value of such property is
    less than five hundred rupees, it may forthwith be sold
    by auction under the orders of the Superintendent of
    Police and the provisions of Sections 457 and 458
    shall, as nearly as may be practicable, apply to the net
    proceeds of such sale.”
  4. Section 102 of the Code is part of a fasciculus of provisions under
    Chapter VII – ‘Process to Compel the Production of Things’. Part
    A of the said Chapter deals with Summons to produce; Part B
    deals with Search-warrants; Part C deals with General provisions
    relating to searches; and Part D, of which Section 102 is the first
    Section, falls under the part described as Miscellaneous. The
    marginal note of Section 102 states – “Power of police officer to
    seize certain property”. Sub-section (3) of Section 102 was
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
    SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 4 of 39
    inserted by Act No. 45 of 1978. It was later amended by section
    13(a) of the Cr.P.C. Amendment Act, 2005 (Act 25 of 2005) by
    adding the expression “or where there is difficulty in securing
    proper accommodation for the custody of such property, or where
    the continued retention of the property in police custody may not
    be considered necessary for the purpose of investigation.” Proviso
    to sub-section (3) was also added by the Amendment Act, 2005.
    Sub-section (3) to Section 102 is intended to give greater
    discretion to the police officer for releasing seized property, where
    there is a difficulty in securing proper accommodation for the
    custody of the property or where the continued retention of the
    property in police custody is not considered necessary for the
    purpose of investigation. Proviso states that if the seized property
    is of perishable nature and the value of such property is less than
    five hundred rupees and if the person entitled to the possession of
    such property is unknown or absent, the police is empowered to
    sell such property by auction under orders of the Superintendent
    of Police.
  5. The minority judgment and the contention of the appellant is
    substantially predicated on the words ‘any property’ in sub-section
    (1) of Section 102. Reference was made to the decision of this
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
    SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 5 of 39
    Court in State of Maharashtra v. Tapas D. Neogy3
    . To avoid
    prolixity, we are not referring to the contentions raised by both
    sides as the same would be referred to and examined during the
    course of our reasoning. At the outset, we must begin by referring
    to the decision in Tapas D. Neogy (supra), a case arising from
    three First Information Reports under Sections 120-B, 467, 468,
    471 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred
    to as the ‘IPC’) and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(d) of the
    Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The question was whether a
    bank account of an accused or any relation of the accused was
    ‘property’ within the meaning of Section 102 of the Code and if so,
    whether the Investigating Officer has the power to seize the bank
    account or issue a prohibitory order restraining operation of the
    bank account. Reference was made to several judgments of the
    High Courts, some of which would be discussed later, to hold as
    under:
    “12. Having considered the divergent views taken by
    different High Courts with regard to the power of
    seizure under Section 102 of the Code of Criminal
    Procedure, and whether the bank account can be held
    to be “property” within the meaning of the said Section
    102(1), we see no justification to give any narrow
    interpretation to the provisions of the Criminal
    Procedure Code. It is well known that corruption in
    public offices has become so rampant that it has
    become difficult to cope up with the same. Then again
    the time consumed by the courts in concluding the
    3
    (1999) 7 SCC 685
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
    SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 6 of 39
    trials is another factor which should be borne in mind in
    interpreting the provisions of Section 102 of the
    Criminal Procedure Code and the underlying object
    engrafted therein, inasmuch as if there can be no order
    of seizure of the bank account of the accused then the
    entire money deposited in a bank which is ultimately
    held in the trial to be the outcome of the illegal
    gratification, could be withdrawn by the accused and
    the courts would be powerless to get the said money
    which has any direct link with the commission of the
    offence committed by the accused as a public officer.
    We are, therefore, persuaded to take the view that the
    bank account of the accused or any of his relations is
    “property” within the meaning of Section 102 of the
    Criminal Procedure Code and a police officer in course
    of investigation can seize or prohibit the operation of
    the said account if such assets have direct links with
    the commission of the offence for which the police
    officer is investigating into. The contrary view
    expressed by the Karnataka, Gauhati and Allahabad
    High Courts, does not represent the correct law. It may
    also be seen that under the Prevention of Corruption
    Act, 1988, in the matter of imposition of fine under subsection (2) of Section 13, the legislatures have
    provided that the courts in fixing the amount of fine
    shall take into consideration the amount or the value of
    the property which the accused person has obtained by
    committing the offence or where the conviction is for an
    offence referred to in clause (e) of sub-section (1) of
    Section 13, the pecuniary resources or property for
    which the accused person is unable to account
    satisfactorily. The interpretation given by us in respect
    of the power of seizure under Section 102 of the
    Criminal Procedure Code is in accordance with the
    intention of the legislature engrafted in Section 16 of
    the Prevention of Corruption Act referred to above. In
    the aforesaid premises, we have no hesitation to come
    to the conclusion that the High Court of Bombay
    committed error in holding that the police officer could
    not have seized the bank account or could not have
    issued any direction to the bank officer, prohibiting the
    account of the accused from being operated upon.
    Though we have laid down the law, but so far as the
    present case is concerned, the order impugned has
    already been given effect to and the accused has been
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
    SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 7 of 39
    operating his account, and so, we do not interfere with
    the same.”
  6. Money, as per clause (7) of Section 2 of the Sales of Goods Act,
    1930, is neither goods nor movable property, albeit Section 22 of
    the IPC defines the term ‘movable property’ to include corporeal
    property of every description, except land and things attached to
    the earth or permanently fastened to anything which is attached to
    the earth. The expression ‘movable property’ has not been
    specifically defined in the Code. In terms of Section 2(y) of the
    Code, words and meanings defined in the IPC would equally be
    applicable to the Code. Money, therefore, would be property for
    the purposes of the Code. Money is not an immovable property.
  7. Decision of this Court in Tapas D. Neogy (supra) was in respect
    of the bank accounts and it did not examine and answer the
    question whether the expression ‘any property’ would include
    immovable property. This question was, however, noticed in
    paragraph 6 in Tapas D. Neogy (supra), which had made
    reference to a decision of the Delhi High Court in Ms. Swaran
    Sabharwal v. Commissioner of Police4
    in which it was held that
    Section 102 requires that the seized property by itself should lead
    to the suspicion that some offence has been committed. In other
    4 1988 CriLJ 241 (Del) (DB)
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
    SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 8 of 39
    words, the discovery of the offence should be a sequel to the
    discovery of that property and not the other way around.
    Reference in this regard can also be made to Jagdish Chander
    and Others v. State and Others5
    , wherein the petitioner had
    challenged the seizure action of the police on the ground that the
    word ‘seizure’ appearing in Section 102 of the Code would imply
    actual taking of possession and, therefore, would not include
    immovable property. This contention was not answered and left
    open as the Delhi High Court came to the conclusion that the
    seizure order therein under Section 102 of the Code was not in
    accordance with the statutory requirement as the property should
    be discovered under circumstances which create a suspicion of
    the commission of an offence, that is, the police officer should
    come across certain property in circumstances which create in his
    mind a suspicion that an offence has been committed. Section
    102, it was held, would not be attracted where the property has
    not been traced or discovered which leads to a suspicion of an
    offence having been committed. Discovery of property should
    precede the detection of crime. This ratio was subsequently
    followed in P.K. Parmar and Others v. Union of India and
    Another6
    in which the Delhi High Court had reiterated that unless
    5 40 (199) DLT 233
    6 1992 CriLJ 2499 (Del)
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    discovery of the property leads to a suspicion of an offence having
    been committed, Section 102 of the Code cannot be invoked for
    seizing such properties. The Delhi High Court examined the
    question; whether the discovery of the bank accounts had
    preceded the suspicion of the offences having been committed
    and held that there were good reasons, in view of the attending
    circumstances, which had led Central Bureau of Investigation
    (hereinafter referred to as the ‘CBI’) to be suspicious of an offence
    having been committed in relation to such accounts. The accounts
    were found either in the name of non-existent persons or in bogus
    names and all such accounts were allegedly being maintained by
    the principal accused. There was sufficient cause for the CBI to
    set the criminal law into motion. In this case, the allegation was
    that subsidies were obtained illegally and without entitlement from
    the Government of India, and the amounts so received were
    deposited in the bank accounts that had prima facie linked the
    accused with various offences with which they were charged. The
    cause of action, therefore, for seizing the bank accounts arose
    when a suspicion was created relating to the multiple and spurious
    handling of bank accounts.
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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  8. Tapas D. Neogy (supra) had also referred to the judgment of a
    Single Judge of the Madras High Court in Bharat Overseas Bank
    v. Minu Publication7
    , which had made reference to Sections 451,
    452, 453, 456 and 457 of the Code to observe that these
    provisions seek to reimburse or compensate victims of crime and
    bring about restoration of the property or its restitution. The
    provision empowering seizure was necessary to preserve the
    property for the purpose of enabling the Criminal Court to pass
    suitable orders under the aforesaid provisions at the conclusion of
    the trial. The judgment also refers to restoration of immovable
    property under certain circumstances dealt with under Section 456
    of the Code.
  9. The reason why we have referred to the two decisions in P.K.
    Parmar (supra) and Bharat Overseas Bank (supra) is to notice
    the wide range of issues and contentions with reference to the
    term ‘property’ that could arise for consideration while interpreting
    the power of the police officer to effect seizure under Section 102
    of the Code, albeit this Court did not deal with and express an
    opinion on several issues in Tapas D. Neogy (supra) and the
    judgment was confined and limited to the question; whether bank
    accounts would fall within the category of ‘any property’. Holding
    7 1988 MLW (Cri) 106
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
    SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 11 of 39
    that the bank accounts would fall under the expression ‘any
    property’ under Section 102 of the Code, it was observed that
    there was no justification or reason to give a narrow interpretation
    to the words to exclude bank accounts, elucidating that corruption
    in public offices has become rampant and this aspect has to be
    borne in mind while interpreting the provisions of Section 102 of
    the Code and the underlying object engrafted in the provision.
  10. It follows from the aforesaid discussion that the decision in Tapas
    D. Neogy (supra) did not go into and decide the issue; whether
    immovable property would fall under the expression ‘any property’
    under Section 102 of the Code. We say so by applying the
    inversion test as referred to in State of Gujarat and Others v.
    Utility Users’ Welfare Association and Others8
    , which states
    that the Court must first carefully frame the supposed proposition
    of law and then insert in the proposition a word reversing its
    meaning to get the answer whether or not a decision is a
    precedent for that proposition. If the answer is in the affirmative,
    the case is not a precedent for that proposition. If the answer is in
    the negative, the case is a precedent for the original proposition
    and possibly for other propositions also. This is one of the tests
    applied to decide what can be regarded and treated as ratio
    8
    (2018) 6 SCC 21
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    decidendi of a decision. Reference in this regard can also be
    made to the decisions of this Court in U.P. State Electricity
    Board v. Pooran Chandra Pandey and Others9
    , Commissioner
    of Income Tax v. Sun Engineering Works (P) Ltd.10 and other
    cases which hold that a decision is only an authority for what it
    actually decides. What is of the essence in a decision is its ratio.
    Not every observation found therein nor what logically flows from
    those observations is the ratio decidendi. Judgment in question
    has to be read as a whole and the observations have to be
    considered in light of the instances which were before the Court.
    This is the way to ascertain the true principles laid down by a
    decision. Ratio decidendi cannot be decided by picking out words
    or sentences averse to the context under question from the
    judgment. It is, therefore, clear to us that Tapas D. Neogy (supra)
    did not decide the issue in question; whether or not an immovable
    property will fall within the expression ‘any property’ in Section 102
    of the Code. We will have to, therefore, examine the issue and
    answer the same.
  11. This Court in R.K. Dalmia etc. v. Delhi Administration11 had
    interpreted the word ‘property’ in Section 405 and other sections
    9
    (2007) 11 SCC 92
    10 (1992) 4 SCC 363
    11 AIR 1962 SC 1821
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    of the IPC to opine that there was no good reason to restrict the
    meaning of the word ‘property’ to movable property when the word
    was used without any qualification in Section 405 or in other
    sections of the IPC. At the same time, this Court had cautioned
    that whether an offence defined in a particular section of the IPC
    can be committed in respect of any particular kind of property, will
    depend not on the interpretation of the word ‘property’ but on the
    fact that whether that particular kind of property can be subject to
    acts covered by that section. In that sense, it can be said that the
    word ‘property’ in a particular section covers only that type of
    property in respect of which the offence contemplated in that
    section can be committed. This, we would observe, is the central
    and core principle which would have to be applied when we
    interpret the expression ‘any property’ used in Section 102 of the
    Code, which as noticed above and elucidated below is a power
    conferred upon the police officer and relates to the stage of
    investigation and collection of evidence to be produced in the
    Court during trial.
  12. Before we proceed further, we would like to refer to the Criminal
    Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944 (No. XXXVIII of 1944) which
    was promulgated in exercise of powers conferred under Section
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    72 of the Ninth Schedule of the Government of India Act, 1935 to
    prevent disposal or concealment of property procured by means of
    offences specified in its Schedule, which include offences
    punishable under Sections 406, 408, 409, 411 and 414 of the IPC
    in respect of Government property, property of local authority or a
    Corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State
    Act, etc., and an offence punishable under the Prevention of
    Corruption Act, 1988, an insertion made by the Prevention of
    Corruption Act, 1988. It sets out the procedure when the Central/
    State Government has a reason to believe that a person has
    committed any scheduled offence, whether or not the Court has
    taken cognisance of the said offence, by attachment of money or
    other property which the Central/State Government believes that
    the person has procured by means of the scheduled offence, and
    if such money or property cannot for any reason be attached, any
    other property of the said person of value as nearly as may be
    equivalent to that of the aforesaid money or property. This
    enactment mandates application of provisions of Order XXVII of
    the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 with a provision for filing an
    application before the District Judge who is entitled to pass an ad
    interim attachment order after following the prescribed procedure
    including examination and investigation of objections to
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    attachment of the property. The District Judge can pass an order
    either making the interim attachment absolute or varying it by
    releasing the property or portion thereof or withdrawing the order
    on satisfaction of certain conditions. Other sections contained in
    the Ordinance provide for attachment of property of mala fide
    transferees, execution of orders of attachment, security in lieu of
    attachment, administration of attached property, duration of
    attachment, appeals, power of Criminal Court to evaluate property
    procured by scheduled offences and disposal of attached property
    upon termination of criminal proceedings. Section 14 bars legal
    proceedings in other Courts in respect of the property attached
    under the Ordinance. The Ordinance is a permanent Ordinance
    which was promulgated during the Second World War. It was
    adopted by the Presidential Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950
    issued under the powers conferred by clause (2) of Article 372 of
    the Constitution, thus, making it effective in the territory of India
    and, therefore, continues to remain in force.
  13. Similarly, there are provisions in the form of Sections 145, 146,
    165 amongst others in the Code which specifically relate to
    immovable properties. Chapter VIIA – ‘Reciprocal Arrangements
    for Assistance in Certain Matters and Procedure for Attachment
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    and Forfeiture of Property’ specifically includes immovable
    properties under the expression ‘property’ for the purpose of the
    said Chapter unless the context otherwise requires. Similarly, we
    have specific provisions relating to and dealing with immovable
    property under the Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances
    Act, 1985.
  14. We would now refer to Chapter XXXIV of the Code, which has the
    heading ‘Disposal of Property’ and consists of Sections 451 to
  15. We would like to reproduce Sections 451, 452, 453, 454,
    456 and 457 of the Code, which read as under:
    “451. Order for custody and disposal of property
    pending trial in certain cases.— When any property
    is produced before any Criminal Court during any
    inquiry or trial, the Court may make such order as it
    thinks fit for the proper custody of such property
    pending the conclusion of the inquiry or trial, and, if the
    property is subject to speedy and natural decay, or if it
    is otherwise expedient so to do, the Court may, after
    recording such evidence as it thinks necessary, order it
    to be sold or otherwise disposed of.
    Explanation.– For the purposes of this section,
    “property” includes –
    (a) property of any kind or document which is produced
    before the Court or which is in its custody,
    (b) any property regarding which an offence appears to
    have been committed or which appears to have been
    used for the commission of any offence.
    452.Order for disposal of property at conclusion of
    trial.-
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    (1) When an inquiry or trial in any Criminal Court is
    concluded, the Court may make such order as it thinks
    fit for the disposal, by destruction, confiscation or
    delivery to any person claiming to be entitled to
    possession thereof or otherwise, of any property or
    document produced before it or in its custody, or
    regarding which any offence appears to have been
    committed, or which has been used for the commission
    of any offence.
    (2) An order may be made under sub-section (1) for the
    delivery of any property to any person claiming to be
    entitled to the possession thereof, without any
    condition or on condition that he executes a bond, with
    or without sureties, to the satisfaction of the Court,
    engaging to restore such property to the Court if the
    order made under sub-section (1) is modified or set
    aside on appeal or revision.
    (3) A Court of Session may, instead of itself making an
    order under sub-section (1), direct the property to be
    delivered to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, who shall
    thereupon deal with it in the manner provided in
    sections 457, 458 and 459.
    (4) Except where the property is livestock or is subject
    to speedy and natural decay, or where a bond has
    been executed in pursuance of sub-section (2), an
    order made under sub-section (1) shall not be carried
    out for two months, or when an appeal is presented,
    until such appeal has been disposed of.
    (5) In this section, the term “property” includes, in the
    case of property regarding which an offence appears to
    have been committed, not only such property as has
    been originally in the possession or under the control of
    any party, but also any property into or for which the
    same may have been converted or exchanged, and
    anything acquired by such conversion or exchange,
    whether immediately or otherwise.
    453.Payment to innocent purchaser of money
    found on accused.-
    When any person is convicted of any offence which
    includes, or amounts to, theft or receiving stolen
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    property, and it is proved that any other person bought
    the stolen property from him without knowing or having
    reason to believe that the same was stolen, and that
    any money has on his arrest been taken out of the
    possession of the convicted person, the Court may, on
    the application of such purchaser and on the restitution
    of the stolen property to the person entitled to the
    possession thereof, order that out of such money a
    sum not exceeding the price paid by such purchaser be
    delivered to him.
    454.Appeal against orders under section 452 or
    section 453.-
    (1) Any person aggrieved by an order made by a Court
    under section 452 or section 453, may appeal against it
    to the Court to which appeals ordinarily lie from
    convictions by the former Court.
    (2) On such appeal, the Appellate Court may direct the
    order to be stayed pending disposal of the appeal, or
    may modify, alter or annul the order and make any
    further orders that may be just.
    (3) The powers referred to in sub-section (2) may also
    be exercised by a Court of appeal, confirmation or
    revision while dealing with the case in which the order
    referred to in sub-section (1) was made.
    xx xx xx
    456.Power to restore possession of immovable
    property.-
    (1) When a person is convicted of an offence attended
    by criminal force or show of force or by criminal
    intimidation, and it appears to the Court that, by such
    force or show of force or intimidation, any person has
    been dispossessed of any immovable property, the
    Court may, if it thinks fit, order that possession of the
    same be restored to that person after evicting by force,
    if necessary, any other person who may be in
    possession of the property:
    Provided that no such order shall be made by the Court
    more than one month after the date of the conviction.
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    (2) Where the Court trying the offence has not made an
    order under sub-section (1), the Court of appeal,
    confirmation or revision may, if it thinks fit, make such
    order while disposing of the appeal, reference or
    revision, as the case may be.
    (3) Where an order has been made under sub-section
    (1), the provisions of section 454 shall apply in relation
    thereto as they apply in relation to an order under
    section 453.
    (4) No order made under this section shall prejudice
    any right or interest to or in such immovable property
    which any person may be able to establish in a civil
    suit.
    457.Procedure by police upon seizure of property.-
    (1) Whenever the seizure of property by any police
    officer is reported to a Magistrate under the provisions
    of this Code, and such property is not produced before
    a Criminal Court during an inquiry or trial, the
    Magistrate may make such order as he thinks fit
    respecting the disposal of such property or the delivery
    of such property to the person entitled to the
    possession thereof, or if such person cannot be
    ascertained, respecting the custody and production of
    such property.
    (2) If the person so entitled is known, the Magistrate
    may order the property to be delivered to him on such
    conditions (if any) as the Magistrate thinks fit and if
    such person is unknown, the Magistrate may detain it
    and shall, in such case, issue a proclamation
    specifying the articles of which such property consists,
    and requiring any person who may have a claim
    thereto, to appear before him and establish his claim
    within six months from the date of such proclamation.”
  16. Section 451 empowers the Criminal Court to pass an order of
    proper custody of ‘any property’ pending trial or inquiry. The Court
    can also direct disposal in certain circumstances. Explanation to
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    Section 451 states that for the purpose of the said Section,
    ‘property’ includes property of any kind or document which is
    produced before the Court or which is in its custody or any
    property regarding which an offence appears to have been
    committed or which appears to have been used for the
    commission of any offence. Section 451 applies during or pending
    trial, or inquiry (the expression ‘inquiry’ is defined in Section 2(g) of
    the Code). There are judgments that hold that the expression
    ‘property’ for the purpose of Section 451 includes immovable
    property. In fact, preponderance of judicial decisions takes this
    view, though there is no direct judgment of this Court. Same is the
    position with regard to Section 452, which in sub-section (5) states
    that the term ‘property’ includes, in case of property regarding
    which an offence appears to have been committed, not only such
    property as was originally in possession or under control of any
    party, but also any property into which the same may have been
    converted or exchanged, and anything acquired by such
    conversion or exchange, whether immediately or otherwise.
    Section 452 states that when an inquiry or trial in a Criminal Court
    concludes, the Court may make an order as it thinks fit for the
    disposal, by destruction, confiscation or delivery to any person
    claiming himself to be entitled to possession thereof or otherwise,
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    of any property or document produced before it or in its custody,
    or regarding which an offence appears to have been committed or
    which has been used for the commission of any offence. The
    context is wide, albeit the words, “may make such order as it
    thinks fit” in Section 452 vests the Court with the discretion to
    dispose of the property in any of the three modes specified,
    namely, destruction, confiscation or delivery to the person entitled
    to be in possession thereof or otherwise (see N. Madhavan v.
    State of Kerala12). However, an order under Section 452 is not an
    order determining title or ownership but that of the right to
    possession, and therefore where serious claims to ownership are
    put forward, it would be best if the Criminal Courts directs the
    parties to establish their claim before the Civil Court. The Criminal
    Court can, however, pass appropriate order of interim nature as it
    may be appropriate. What is important and relevant for our
    discussion is that the Sections 451 and 452 are broad and wide
    conferring specific and clear powers upon the Criminal Court, and
    the language indicates that they could equally apply to immovable
    property. These Sections do not make reference to Section 102 of
    the Code relating to the seizure of property by the police officer.
    This is equally true of Section 456 which specifically empowers
    12 (1979) 4 SCC 1
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    SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 22 of 39
    the Criminal Court to restore possession of immovable property
    when a person is convicted of an offence attended by criminal
    force or show of force or by criminal intimidation and it appears to
    the Court that by such force or show of force or intimidation any
    person has been dispossessed of the property. This order can be
    made without prejudice to the right or interest to or in such
    immovable property which any person may be able to establish in
    a civil suit. Section 457 applies when a property has been seized
    by any police officer and is reported to a Magistrate under the
    provisions of the Code and such property is not produced before a
    Criminal Court during the course of inquiry or trial. The expression
    ‘not produced before a Criminal Court’ used in Section 457 of the
    Code is significant. Thus, this provision applies to the property
    seized under Section 102 of the Code, but not produced during
    the trial or inquiry. In common parlance, the word ‘produced’ is an
    expression used to signify actual or physical production which
    would apply to movable property. Immovable property cannot be
    ‘produced’ in a Court.
  17. We have referred to the said provisions under Chapter XXXIV –
    ‘Disposal of Property’, as this would be of significance and,
    addresses the argument and concern expressed by the appellant
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    – Nevada Properties Pvt. Ltd. and some of the State
    Governments. These provisions, specifically enable the Court to
    pass orders relating to the properties, both movable and
    immovable. We have referred to Section 451, which does not
    specifically refer to any seizure order under Section 102 of the
    Code but vide Explanation includes such property regarding which
    an offence appears to have been committed or which appears to
    have been used for the commission of any offence. Similarly,
    Section 452 refers to property regarding which an offence appears
    to have been committed as has been originally in possession or
    under control of any party and also such property into or for which
    the same may have been converted or exchanged. Again Section
    452 per se, does not make any reference to Section 102 of the
    Code. This is also true for Section 456 of the Code which relates
    to restoration of possession of immovable property in certain
    circumstances. These provisions, therefore, do not directly define
    the contours and scope of Section 102 of the Code. On the other
    hand, it would show that Section 102 is not the primary or the core
    provision which would make the provisions of Section 451, 452 or
    456 of the Code applicable. The parameters for application of
    these sections are those as are enumerated in the specific
    provisions. Sections 451 and 452 specifically define the
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    expression ‘property’ for the purpose of an order of custody and
    disposal by the Court. Section 456 applies to the category or type
    of offences concerning immovable property regardless of whether
    the immovable property is in custody of the Court or has been
    attached. Power of the Criminal Court under these Sections,
    except Section 457 of the Code, is not restricted to property
    seized by the police officer under Section 102 of the Code.
    Section 457, as noticed, applies to properties which have been
    seized by the police officer under the Code but not produced
    during inquiry or trial.
  18. Having held and elucidated on the power of the Criminal Court, we
    find good ground and reason to hold that the expression ‘any
    property’ appearing in Section 102 of the Code would not include
    immovable property. We would elucidate and explain.
  19. The first part of sub-section (1) of Section 102 of the Code relates
    to the property which may be alleged or suspected to have been
    stolen. Immovable property certainly cannot be stolen and cannot
    fall in this part. The second part relates to the property which may
    be found by a police officer under circumstances which create
    suspicion of the commission of any offence. We have already
    referred to the judgments of the Delhi High Court in the case of
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    P.K. Parmar (supra), Ms. Swaran Sabharwal (supra), and
    Jagdish Chander (supra), which have elucidated and in a
    restricted and narrow manner defined the requirement for invoking
    the second part. However, we have come across a decision of this
    Court in Teesta Atul Setalvad v. State of Gujarat13, on an appeal
    from the judgment of the Gujarat High Court and had dealt with a
    situation when an act of freezing the accounts was a sequel to the
    crime as the crime was detected earlier. The Gujarat High Court
    took a somewhat contrary view, by not interfering and directing
    defreezing, observing that even if the action of the investigating
    agency at the inception to seize may not be regular, the Court
    cannot be oblivious to the collection of substantial material by the
    investigating agency which justifies its action under Section 102 of
    the Code. Further when the investigation had progressed to a
    material point, de-freezing the bank accounts on the basis of such
    arguments would paralyse the investigation which would not be in
    the interest of justice. After referring to the factual matrix in
    Teesta Atul Setalvad (Supra), this Court observed that the
    Investigating Officer was in possession of material pointing out to
    the circumstances that had created suspicion of the commission
    of an offence, in particular the one under investigation, and
    13 (2018) 2 SCC 372
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    therefore exercise of power under Section 102 of the Code would
    be in law legitimate as it was exercised after following the
    procedure prescribed in sub-sections (2) and (3) of the same
    provision.
  20. Section 102 postulates seizure of the property. Immovable
    property cannot, in its strict sense, be seized, though documents
    of title, etc. relating to immovable property can be seized, taken
    into custody and produced. Immovable property can be attached
    and also locked/sealed. It could be argued that the word ‘seize’
    would include such action of attachment and sealing. Seizure of
    immovable property in this sense and manner would in law require
    dispossession of the person in occupation/possession of the
    immovable property, unless there are no claimants, which would
    be rare. Language of Section 102 of the Code does not support
    the interpretation that the police officer has the power to
    dispossess a person in occupation and take possession of an
    immovable property in order to seize it. In the absence of the
    Legislature conferring this express or implied power under Section
    102 of the Code to the police officer, we would hesitate and not
    hold that this power should be inferred and is implicit in the power
    to effect seizure. Equally important, for the purpose of
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    interpretation is the scope and object of Section 102 of the Code,
    which is to help and assist investigation and to enable the police
    officer to collect and collate evidence to be produced to prove the
    charge complained of and set up in the charge sheet. The Section
    is a part of the provisions concerning investigation undertaken by
    the police officer. After the charge sheet is filed, the prosecution
    leads and produces evidence to secure conviction. Section 102 is
    not, per se, an enabling provision by which the police officer acts
    to seize the property to do justice and to hand over the property to
    a person whom the police officer feels is the rightful and true
    owner. This is clear from the objective behind Section 102, use of
    the words in the Section and the scope and ambit of the power
    conferred on the Criminal Court vide Sections 451 to 459 of the
    Code. The expression ‘circumstances which create suspicion of
    the commission of any offence’ in Section 102 does not refer to a
    firm opinion or an adjudication/finding by a police officer to
    ascertain whether or not ‘any property’ is required to be seized.
    The word ‘suspicion’ is a weaker and a broader expression than
    ‘reasonable belief’ or ‘satisfaction’. The police officer is an
    investigator and not an adjudicator or a decision maker. This is the
    reason why the Ordinance was enacted to deal with attachment of
    money and immovable properties in cases of scheduled offences.
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    In case and if we allow the police officer to ‘seize’ immovable
    property on a mere ‘suspicion of the commission of any offence’, it
    would mean and imply giving a drastic and extreme power to
    dispossess etc. to the police officer on a mere conjecture and
    surmise, that is, on suspicion, which has hitherto not been
    exercised. We have hardly come across any case where
    immovable property was seized vide an attachment order that was
    treated as a seizure order by police officer under Section 102 of
    the Code. The reason is obvious. Disputes relating to title,
    possession, etc., of immovable property are civil disputes which
    have to be decided and adjudicated in Civil Courts. We must
    discourage and stall any attempt to convert civil disputes into
    criminal cases to put pressure on the other side (See Binod
    Kumar and Others v. State of Bihar and Another14). Thus, it will
    not be proper to hold that Section 102 of the Code empowers a
    police officer to seize immovable property, land, plots, residential
    houses, streets or similar properties. Given the nature of criminal
    litigation, such seizure of an immovable property by the police
    officer in the form of an attachment and dispossession would not
    facilitate investigation to collect evidence/material to be produced
    during inquiry and trial. As far as possession of the immovable
    14 (2014) 10 SCC 663
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    property is concerned, specific provisions in the form of Sections
    145 and 146 of the Code can be invoked as per and in
    accordance with law. Section 102 of the Code is not a general
    provision which enables and authorises the police officer to seize
    immovable property for being able to be produced in the Criminal
    Court during trial. This, however, would not bar or prohibit the
    police officer from seizing documents/ papers of title relating to
    immovable property, as it is distinct and different from seizure of
    immovable property. Disputes and matters relating to the physical
    and legal possession and title of the property must be adjudicated
    upon by a Civil Court.
  21. In view of the aforesaid discussion, the Reference is answered by
    holding that the power of a police officer under Section 102 of the
    Code to seize any property, which may be found under
    circumstances that create suspicion of the commission of any
    offence, would not include the power to attach, seize and seal an
    immovable property.
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  22. The Registry is directed to list the individual appeals for disposal
    before the appropriate Bench.
    …………………………….CJI.
    (RANJAN GOGOI)
    ………………………………..J.
    (DEEPAK GUPTA)
    ………………………………..J.
    (SANJIV KHANNA)
    NEW DELHI;
    SEPTEMBER 24, 2019.
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
    SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 31 of 39
    REPORTABLE
    IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
    CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
    CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1481 OF 2019
    (@ SLP (CRL.) NO.1513 of 2011)
    NEVADA PROPERTIES PRIVATE LIMITED
    THROUGH ITS DIRECTOR …APPELLANT(S)
    VERSUS
    STATE OF MAHARASHTRA AND ANR. …RESPONDENT(S)
    WITH
    CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1122 OF 2011
    CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1482­1485 OF 2019
    (@ SLP(CRL.) NOS.891­894 OF 2011)
    CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1486 OF 2019
    (@ SLP(CRL.) NO.4360 OF 2011)
    AND
    CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1487 OF 2019
    (@ SLP(CRL.) NO.3958 OF 2013)
    J U D G M E N T
    Deepak Gupta, J.
  23. I have gone through the judgment delivered by my brother,
    Justice Sanjiv Khanna. I agree with the finding in the said
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    SLP (Crl.) No. 1513 of 2011 and connected matters Page 32 of 39
    judgment. However, in view of the nature of the issue involved, I
    intend to give a few additional reasons of my own.
  24. Since brother Khanna in his judgment has given elaborate
    reasons to hold that in the context of Section 102 the words ‘any
    property’ would mean only movable property, I am not repeating
    the same for the sake of brevity.
  25. The main issue involved is what is the meaning to be given to
    the word ‘property’ occurring in Section 102 of the Code of Criminal
    Procedure which reads as follows:­
    “Power of police officer to seize certain property. ­ (1) Any
    police officer may seize any property which may be alleged or
    suspected to have been stolen, or which may be found under
    circumstances which create suspicion of the commission of
    any offence.
    (2) Such police officer, if subordinate to the officer in charge of
    a police station, shall forthwith report the seizure to that
    officer.
    (3) Every police officer acting under sub­section (1) shall
    forthwith report the seizure to the Magistrate having
    jurisdiction and where the property seized is such that it
    cannot be conveniently transported to the Court, or where
    there is difficulty in securing proper accommodation for the
    custody of such property, or where the continued retention of
    the property in police custody may not be considered
    necessary for the purpose of investigation, he may give
    custody thereof to any person on his executing a bond
    undertaking to produce the property before the Court as and
    when required and to give effect to the further orders of the
    Court as to the disposal of the same:
    Provided that where the property seized under sub­section
    (1) is subject to speedy and natural decay and if the person
    entitled to the possession of such property is unknown or
    absent and the value of such property is less than five
    hundred rupees, it may forthwith be sold by auction under
    the orders of the Superintendent of Police and the provisions
    of Sections 457 and 458 shall, as nearly as may be
    practicable, apply to the net proceeds of such sale.”
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    Sub­section (1) of Section 102 empowers a police officer to seize
    any property which may be alleged or suspected to have been
    stolen or which may be found under circumstances which create
    suspicion of the commission of any offence. On behalf of the
    appellant it is urged that the word ‘any property’ is of very wide
    amplitude and will cover movable and immovable properties. This
    stand is also supported by the State of Maharashtra. On the other
    hand, it is contended by the respondents that in the context in
    which the word ‘any property’ is used in the Section, it has to be
    limited to movable property and cannot be extended to immovable
    property.
  26. At first blush, the arguments on behalf of the appellant seem
    attractive because normally the words ‘any property’ would mean
    property of any kind or description. However, it is a well settled
    principle of statutory interpretation that when construing the
    words of a statute, they must be read in a manner in which they fit
    into the section and in the context of the purpose sought to be
    achieved by that particular provision of law.
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  27. Sub­section (1) of Section 102 empowers a police officer to
    seize any property which may be alleged or suspected to have been
    stolen. Theft can take place only of movable property and not of
    immovable property. In my view, the word ‘seized’ has been used
    in the sense of taking actual physical custody of the property.
    Sub­section 3 of Section 102 provides that where it is difficult to
    conveniently transport the property to the court or there is
    difficulty in securing proper accommodation for the custody of the
    property, then the property can be given to any person on his
    executing a bond. This per se indicates that the property must be
    capable of production in court and also be capable of being kept
    inside some accommodation. This obviously cannot be done with
    immovable property.
  28. Section 102 has been in the statute book for more than a
    century. Section 102 corresponds to Section 550 of the Code of
    Criminal Procedure, 1898. For more than a century the courts
    have read the words ‘any property’ to mean movable property151617
    15
    AIR 1960 AII 405
    16
    WP(C) No. 12275 of 2012, Judgment dated 26.07.2012 (Ker HC)
    17
    2016(3) PLJR 464
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    and no decision to the contrary was brought to our notice.
    Reliance is only placed on the judgment of this Court in State of
    Maharashtra vs. Tapas D. Neogy18. In that case, the question
    was totally different and this court only decided that a bank
    account of an accused was property within the meaning of Section
  29. The Court did not go into the question of movable or
    immovable property and, therefore, this judgment would not be
    applicable.
  30. I would also like to point out that in the Code of Criminal
    Procedure itself the Legislature has in various provisions
    specifically used the words ‘movable’ and ‘immovable’ property.
    Some of those have been dealt with by my learned brother. In this
    regard reference may be made to Section 83 of the Cr.P.C. which
    relates to seizure of the property of a proclaimed absconder. Subsection 1 of Section 83 reads as follows:­
    “(1) The Court issuing a proclamation under section 82 may, for
    reasons to be recorded in writing, at any time after the issue of the
    proclamation, order the attachment of any property, movable or
    immovable, or both, belonging to the proclaimed person:…”
    18
    (1999) 7 SCC 685
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    The Legislature in its wisdom uses the words “order the attachment
    of any property, movable or immovable or both”. This is in
    contradistinction to the words ‘any property’ used in Section 102.
  31. Chapter VIIA was introduced in Cr.P.C. vide Act 40 of 1993
    w.e.f. 20th July 1994. This Chapter deals with reciprocal
    arrangements for assistance in certain matters and procedure for
    attachment and forfeiture of property. Property has been defined
    in Section 105A(d) as follows:­
    “‘Property’ means property and assets of every description whether
    corporeal or incorporeal, movable or immovable, tangible or
    intangible and deeds and instruments evidencing title to, or interest
    in, such property or assets derived or used in the commission of an
    offence and includes property obtained through proceeds of crime.”
    This would include property of all kinds, movable and immovable.
    The Legislature made it clear that property of all kinds can be
    attached and forfeited.
    Section 105C (1) reads as follows:­
    “S.105C (1) Where a Court in India has reasonable grounds to
    believe that any property obtained by any person is derived or
    obtained, directly or indirectly, by such person from the commission
    of an offence, it may make an order of attachment or forfeiture of
    such property, as it may deem fit under the provisions of Section
    105D to 105J (both inclusive).”

Reading all these provisions together, it is clear that when any
court in India has reasonable grounds to believe that any property
has been obtained by any person directly or indirectly from the
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commission of an offence, the Court may make an order for
attachment or forfeiture of such property.

  1. This Court is not concerned with the procedure to be followed
    for attachment and forfeiture of the property but only the meaning
    of the word ‘property’. Thus, Section 105C empowers the court to
    order forfeiture of any property which it may feel is derived or
    obtained directly or indirectly by the commission of an offence.
  2. If the argument of the appellant and the State of Maharashtra
    is accepted then there was no need for the legislature to have
    introduced Chapter VIIA. It would also be pertinent to mention
    that the power of attachment and forfeiture is given to courts and
    not to police officer. As pointed out in the judgment of my learned
    brother, if a police officer is given the power to seize immovable
    property it may lead to an absolutely chaotic situation. To give an
    example, if there is a physical fight between the landlord and the
    tenant over the rented premises and if the version of the appellant
    is to be accepted, the police official would be entitled to seize the
    tenanted property. This would make a mockery of rent laws. To
    give another example, if a person forges a will and thereby claims
    property on the basis of the forged will, can the police officer be
    Criminal Appeal arising out of
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    given the power to seize the entire property, both movable and
    immovable, that may be mentioned in the will? The answer has to
    be in the negative. Otherwise it would lead to an absurd situation
    which could never have been envisaged by the Legislature. The
    power of seizure in Section 102 has to be limited to movable
    property.
  3. As far as the meaning of property in Section 452 of the
    Cr.P.C. is concerned, that is not a question referred to the larger
    Bench and therefore, I would refrain from saying anything about
    that.
  4. In view of the above, I would answer the reference by holding
    that the phrase ‘any property’ in Section 102 will only cover
    moveable property and not immovable property.
    …………………………J.
    (Deepak Gupta)
    New Delhi
    September 24, 2019
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