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Delhi High Court: If no criminal case, can’t detain, stop one from leaving country

The court was hearing a petition seeking a direction from withdrawal of a LOC issued by ED in connection with a money laundering case probe.

Observing that the originating agency can only seek intimation of arrival or departure of a person under the ‘LOC of intimation’, the Delhi High Court has said a citizen can neither be detained, arrested or prevented from leaving the country unless he or she is suspected to be involved in a cognizable case or is facing investigation or trial in such matter.

“Further in LOC of intimation the authorities at the airport/ or any other port of departure or arrival cannot restrain or detain the person on the pretext that intimation of his arrival or departure is required to be given to the originating agency, which would indirectly serve as a detentive/ preventive LOC. It is well settled that what cannot be done directly, cannot be done indirectly,” said Justice Mukta Gupta in an order.

As per an office memorandum issued in 2010 by the FRRO, an LOC can be issued only when there is a case involving cognizable offence and in case where there is none, the originating agency can only request they be informed about the arrival or departure of the subject. In the latter case, an ‘LOC of intimation’ can be opened and in the former, the ‘detentive/preventive LOC’ can be issued.

The court was hearing a petition seeking a direction from withdrawal of a LOC issued by ED in connection with a money laundering case probe.

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In the order, it noted that the petitioner was not an accused either in the FIR or in the two ECIRs as he was admittedly a minor at the time of commission of transactions alleged in the cases under IPC, PC Act and even under PMLA.

“Thus, a preventive/ detentive LOC leading to the detention of the petitioner was clearly unwarranted,” said the bench, adding that it was only when the petition was filed that the ‘preventive/detentive LOC’ was converted into an ‘intimative LOC’.

The court added that in the garb of LOC of intimation, the petitioner will not be detained or prevented at the airport or any other port on the pretext that first intimation has to be given to the originating agency.

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First published on: 05-07-2022 at 03:43:24 am
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