The Bombay High Court observed that the right to sleep or right to blink is a basic human requirement and non-providing of the same violates human rights of an individual.

The Court said that recording of statement of the accused at unearthly hours violates the basic human right.

The Court observed thus in a criminal writ petition against the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) filed by a man aged 64 years who was in judicial custody.

A Division Bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice Manjusha Deshpande held, “Thus, a person summoned under Section 50 of the PMLA, should have his statement necessarily recorded during earthly hours, as the investigating agency is yet to arrive at a `reason to believe’ that the said person is guilty of an offence punishable under this Act. The `right to sleep’ / ‘right to blink’ is a basic human requirement, inasmuch as, non-providing of the same, violates a person’s human rights. It affects a person’s health, may impair his mental faculties, cognitive skills and so on.”

The Bench added that the said person, so summoned, cannot be deprived of his basic human right i.e., right to sleep, by the agency, beyond a reasonable time and the statements must necessarily be recorded during earthly hours and not in the night when the person’s cognitive skills may be impaired.

Advocate Vijay Aggarwal appeared on behalf of the petitioner while PP H.S. Venegavkar appeared on behalf of the respondents.

In this case, the counsel for the petitioner/accused submitted that his arrest and consequential remand was illegal and hence, he be released forthwith. According to the counsel, the accused not having been produced before the Special Court within 24 hours of his arrest as mandated in law, made his arrest illegal. He further submitted that although the accused objected to his remand, since his arrest was illegal, before the Special Judge, the Judge failed to consider the same and allowed the remand application filed by the ED.

The Judge remanded the petitioner to custody till August 10, 2023. On the other hand, the counsel for the respondents submitted that there was no illegality in the arrest of the petitioner and that he was produced before the court of competent jurisdiction well within 24 hours as mandated in law.

The High Court in view of the above submissions said, “… it can be gauged from the scheme of the statute that investigation under the PMLA stands on a different footing from an investigation under the Cr.P.C, inasmuch as, the statements given under Section 50(2) and (3) of the PMLA are required to be signed and the proceeding under sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 50 are deemed to be judicial proceedings within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228 of the IPC.”

The Court noted that it is not as if the petitioner, aged 64 years had not reported to the Office of the ED on 3 earlier occasions, post the summons issued under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) as this was the 4th summons which was issued to him. It added that on all the earlier occasions, his statements were recorded and as such, the petitioner could have well been summoned on some other day or even on the next day, instead of keeping him waiting post mid-night, despite his alleged consent.

“Consent is immaterial. Recording of statement, at unearthly hours, definitely results in deprivation of a person’s sleep, a basic human right of an individual. We disapprove this practice. Thus, we deem it appropriate to direct the ED to issue a circular/directions, as to the timings, for recording of statements, when summons under Section 50 of the PMLA are issued, having regard to what is observed by us hereinabove”, it further held.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title- Ram Kotumal Issrani v. Directorate of Enforcement & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024:BHC:AS:17238-DB)


Petitioner: Advocates Vijay Aggarwal, Ayush Jindal, Yash Wardhan Tiwari, Yash Agrawal, Suyash Shanker, and Karan Lala.

Respondents: PP H.S. Venegavkar, Advocate Ayush Kedia, and APP R.M. Pethe.

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