The Himachal Pradesh High Court has recently held that the investigation in a criminal case cannot be used as a recovery proceeding.

In the instant case, it was alleged that instead of crediting the amount received from retail sales in the account of Petrol Station, the employee has been directly crediting to his account.

Declining custody of the accused to Police for interrogation, a Bench of Justice Satyen Vaidya said that “the tool of custodial interrogation cannot be used to extract confession. Such interrogation is permissible where the Investigating Agency is without any means to extract the facts”.

The High Court was hearing a pre-arrest bail application of the petitioner in relation to an FIR registered against him under Sections 408 (Criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The criminal case was lodged by Stan H.P. Enterprises, a retail sale outlet for petroleum products, alleging inter alia that four employees including the petitioner have misappropriated an amount to the tune of Rs. 28,57,022/-.

The police investigation discovered that the petitioner was maintaining five different bank accounts in his name and between February 2022 to November 2022, a total sum of Rs.17,57,014/- was deposited in his bank account. An amount of Rs.11,84,997/- is stated to be withdrawn by the petitioner, from time to time and some part of it is stated to be transferred through UPI to other persons.

The State opposed the grant of pre-arrest bail on the ground that the petitioner is not disclosing the name of persons in whose account he has transferred the said money.

The petitioner submitted that transactions in his bank account were being made at the instance and with the consent of the complainant Stan H.P. Enterprises. Also, during the investigation, he fully associated himself and has provided entire details of the accounts to the police.

“The allegations against the petitioner are subject to proof. Mere fact that huge transaction has been found in the bank account of petitioner does not necessarily lead to the conclusion of his guilt”, the High Court said.

The High Court prima facie inferred that the bank account of “Stan H.P. Enterprises” was receiving payments from the account of the petitioner.

The Court declined to grant custody of the petitioner to the Police for interrogation and for disclosure of the identity and names of persons in whose account the money has been transferred.

“The grounds so raised on behalf of the respondents does not appear to be justified for the reason that the bank transactions can be ascertained by the police from documentary evidence”, the Court said observing that the bank transactions can easily be ascertained through documentary evidence.

The Court allowed the petition and ordered the petitioner to be released on bail.

Cause Title- Rohit Chauhan v. State of Himachal Pradesh