The Punjab & Haryana High Court has recently taken a firm stance on cases involving absconding accused individuals, emphasizing the critical role of property attachment as a tool to ensure the presence of the accused during trial proceedings. In a significant case involving an accused who had been evading arrest for 15 years and challenged the order declaring him a proclaimed offender in 2008, Justice Harpreet Singh Brarexpressed deep concern over the prolonged evasion of legal procedures and the impact on the justice system.

The court’s observations highlighted the necessity of preventing accused individuals from evading trial by remaining absent, as this not only obstructs justice for victims and society but also undermines the efficacy of law enforcement agencies. Justice Brar emphasized the importance of Section 83 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which allows the authorities to attach the property of absconding individuals, thereby ensuring their presence throughout the legal process.

The case, brought forward by Darshan Singh, sought to quash the proclamation declaring him a proclaimed offender. Singh contended that the proclamation hadn’t adhered to the provisions of Section 82 of the CrPC, which requires a 30-day period for appearance after publication. However, the court noted Singh’s failure to provide sufficient cause for the lengthy delay in challenging the order issued back in 2008.

Expressing dismay over the accused’s evasion for 15 years without any application filed under Section 83 CrPC for property attachment, the court emphasized that property attachment serves a preventive purpose. It aims to deter the accused from disposing of their property and ensures their availability to face legal consequences during trial proceedings.

In response to the gravity of the situation, the court directed the police to take action in accordance with Section 83 CrPC and Section 174A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Additionally, the Commissioner of Police and the Senior Superintendent of Police of Amritsar (Rural) were ordered to furnish detailed information for the last 15 years, including the number of proclaimed offenders each year, arrests made after declaring individuals as proclaimed offenders, instances of property attachment initiated by the State, and actions taken pursuant to proclamation orders.

The court’s directive also sought clarification on whether any specialized unit had been formed or periodic exercises undertaken to apprehend accused individuals declared as proclaimed offenders.

Recognizing the seriousness of the matter, the Court appointed Advocate Harkirat Singh Randhawa as amicus curiae and scheduled the next hearing for December 12.

This decision by the Punjab & Haryana High Court underscores the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring the proper administration of criminal justice. It highlights the significance of procedural adherence and the utilization of legal provisions such as property attachment under Section 83 CrPC to prevent accused individuals from avoiding trial and facing consequences for their actions.

This case serves as a reminder of the importance of timely legal action and the need for a robust system that prevents absconding accused from circumventing the law. The judiciary’s proactive approach in this matter aims to strengthen the criminal justice system and restore faith in the efficacy of legal proceedings.

In conclusion, the Punjab & Haryana High Court’s firm stance and directives regarding absconding accused individuals emphasize the vital role of property attachment in ensuring the presence of accused persons during trial proceedings, thereby reinforcing the integrity of the criminal justice system.

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