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DM attachment order under U.P. Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act needs to be reasonable : Allahabad HC

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The expression “reason to believe ” enshrined in the act is of paramount importance and has its intent and purpose. It puts a check on the arbitrary exercise of the power of attachment by denying him his right to property. Such an observation was made by the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court before Hon’ble Justice Subhash Chandra Sharma.

The facts of the case revolved around an order of attachment by the District Magistrate dated 07.07.2020 on the ground that such property was made by money earned as a gangster, to which the petitioner objected but the objection was rejected by the DM. Upon such rejection, the petitioner made an appeal to the Additional session judge which was also dismissed.

Thus, the instant petition was preferred by the petitioner. It was the contention was the petitioner that the house is made from money taken as a loan from various banks and also from the contribution of his two sons one of whom is working in Kuwait and earns Rs. 70,000/- and the other works at furniture house and earns Rs. 30,000/- per month.

It was bounden duty of the Court below to take into consideration the details of the purchase made, sources of income disclosed for making that purchase & construction and whether they were not justified. No clear finding has been recorded by the Court below as to how this property which was purchased much prior to initiation of first case against Abrar shown in the gang chart, could have been linked to the income generated through indulgence in commission of offence under the Act.

It was also required from the Court below to record its findings as to which of the cases out of the cases shown in the gang chart were covered under the Gangster Act. Meticulous detail has been provided by the appellant regarding purchase of this property & construction thereon as well as the source of income. How the sources of income are disbelieved, is not made clear.

Interpreting the said expression, the Supreme Court in the case of M/s. Ganga Saran and Sons Private Limited Calcutta vs. Income Tax Officer and Others, AIR 1981 SC 1363, observed that: words “has reason to believe” is stronger than the words “is satisfied”. The belief entertained by the authority must not be based on reasons which are relevant and material. The Court, of course, cannot investigate into the adequacy or sufficiency of the reasons which weighed with the authority in coming to the belief, but the Court can certainly examine whether the reasons are relevant and have a bearing in the matter in regard to which it is required to entertain the belief.

The Hon’ble High Court observed that the statute lays an obligation on the District Magistrate to consider & use powers enshrined upon him by the statute in a reasonable manner and not in an arbitrary manner. The Hon’ble High Court further stated that “There must be a rational and intelligible nexus between ”reason’ and ”belief’. The word ”belief’ is a very much stronger word than ”suspect’ and it involves the necessity of showing that the circumstances were such that a reasonable man must have felt convinced in his mind that what has been alleged is true.

Finally, the Hon’ble High Court allowed the appeal and was remanded back to the Special judge for being considered afresh in the light of the observations made by this Court.

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