Nevada Properties Pvt Ltd  Vs.  The State Of Maharashtra
Supreme Court Criminal Appeal No.1481 of 2019 [@ S L P (CRL) No. 1513 of 2011]
Dated 24/09/2019

The Apex Court held that – The power of a police Officer does not extend to the seizure of immovable property.


A police officer’s authority to confiscate specific items.

(1) Any property that is discovered in circumstances that raise suspicions of theft or that could be claimed to have been stolen may be seized by any police officer.

(2) If the police officer in question is subordinate to the officer in charge of a police station, they must notify that official right once of the seizure.

(3) If the property being seized cannot be easily transported to the court, the police officer acting under subsection (1) may give custody of it to any person who executes a bond undertaking to produce the property before the court as and when required. Otherwise, the police officer acting under subsection (1) shall report the seizure to the Magistrate having jurisdiction immediately and to give effect to the further orders of the Court as to the disposal of the same.


The Cr.P.C.’s Section 102 gives police officers the authority to seize specific types of property. Certain High courts answered in the positive when asked if immovable property was included in the definition of “any property,” while others answered negatively. 

A Division Bench of the Supreme Court referred the aforementioned appeals to be heard by a bench of at least three judges in an order dated November 18, 2014, noting that the questions raised have significant and far-reaching implications. These appeals have been listed before the current bench following the Chief Justice’s relevant instructions.


After discussing the authority of the Criminal Court, we believe there is solid justification for concluding that immovable property is not included in the definition of “any property” in Section 102 of the Code. We would clarify and describe. 

Section 102 assumes that the property will be seized. Although documents of title and other related paperwork may be seized, taken into custody, and presented, immovable property cannot be seized in the technical sense of the word. 

Immovable property has the ability to be sealed or locked. One could argue that the term “seize” would cover these types of attachment and sealing actions. 

Unless there are no claimants, which is uncommon, the law would need the person in occupancy or possession of the immovable property to be evicted in order to seize it in this sense and manner.

The interpretation that a police officer has the authority to remove a person who is occupying a piece of real estate and take control of it with the intention of seizing it is not supported by the language of Section 102 of the Code. We would be hesitant to declare that this power should be assumed and is inherent in the right to accomplish seizures if the Legislature had not granted the police officer this express or implied authority under Section 102 of the Code. 

For the purpose of interpretation, it is equally crucial to consider the scope and intent of Section 102 of the Code, which is to support the investigation and provide the police officer with the means to gather and compile information that will be used to support the charges against them. sheet.

The Section is a component of the rules pertaining to the police officer’s investigation. The prosecution takes the lead and presents evidence to get a conviction when the charge sheet is submitted. In and of itself, Section 102 does not give police officer the authority to confiscate property in order to carry out their duties and transfer ownership to someone they believe to be the legal owner. 

This is evident from the purpose of Section 102, the way the words are used in the Section and the extent and boundaries of the authority granted to the Criminal Court by Sections 451 through 459 of the Code. Section 102’s reference to “circumstances which create suspicion of the commission of any offense” does not include a firm opinion or an adjudication/finding by police officer to ascertain whether or not ‘any property’ is required to be seized.

A more expansive and less strong phrase than “reasonable belief” or “satisfaction” is “suspicion.” A police officer is neither a judge or a decision-maker; they are an investigator. For this reason, the Ordinance was passed to address the attachment of funds and real estate in situations involving scheduled offenses. If we permit a police officer to “seize” immovable property based only on a suspicion of any offense, we would be granting the police officer an extremely broad and extreme power to take possession of, among other things, on the basis of mere conjecture and suspicion—a power that has never before been used.

We have hardly come across any case where the immovable property was seized vide an attachment order that was treated as a seizure order by the 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. 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 immovable property by the police officer in the form of attachment and dispossession would not facilitate the investigator to collect evidence/material to be produced during inquiry and trial.

Sections 145 and 146 of the Code provide special provisions that can be used in compliance with the law when it comes to immovable property possession. 

A police officer is not generally permitted to seize immovable property in order to have it produced in the Criminal Court during a trial by virtue of Section 102 of the Code. However, as the seizure of documents and papers of title pertaining to immovable property is separate and different from the seizure of immovable property, this would not prevent or limit the police officer from doing so. 

A Civil Court shall decide all disputes and issues pertaining to the property’s legal and physical possession as well as title. 


In light of the aforementioned discussion, the Reference is answered by holding that the authority granted to a police officer under Section 102 of the Code to seize any property found under circumstances raising suspicions of criminal activity does not extend to the ability to attach, seize, and seal immovable property.

ADV. KHANAK SHARMA (D\1710\2023)


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